Short Story: The SMS Part (III) – By Francis Doku
When he stepped out of the office Jacob whipped his mobile phone from his pocket, searched the number of his mechanic and dialed. The voice response told him that it was either off or out of coverage area. He tried the second time and got the same response.
He decided to go to the mechanic’s place and get the car regardless of what state it was in. “I am sure he can continue from wherever he may have reached when he comes for it tomorrow,” he said to himself. Still standing by the street in front of his office Jacob saw a taxi approach and he hailed it. The taxi stopped right in front of him.
Bending his tall frame and looking at the driver through the front window Jacob said in Twi “How much would you charge me to Bubuashie.”
“Which part of Bubashie?” the cabbie enquired.
“There is this big fitting garage directly behind the Accra Academy School, that’s where I am going.”
“I have seen the place. Give me 30 Ghana,” the cabbie said.
“What!” Jacob almost screamed. “30 Ghana Cedis from Asylum Down to Bubuashie?”
“Massa, I am sure you have not “taken” a taxi in a long time…yes it’s 30 Ghana.”
“Can I give you 20 Ghana Cedis,” Jacob said.
“Big man, I am sure you are in a hurry, I am also in a hurry, so let’s not waste each other’s time. Meet me halfway with 25 Ghana, and I am not taking anything less than that,” he said with finality written on his face.
Jacob knew that any minute he wastes haggling with this stupid cab driver will delay his objective. “You let’s go,” he said as he opened the back door of the Toyota and sat in the back seat. Jacob looked at his Police® watch and it was 10:30am. The driver moved his automatic gear lever to D and drove off.
Jacob started to think through his itinerary for the rest of the day. First he has to get his car from the mechanic, drive home to Aburi, get Rebecca’s mobile phone from the dining table, delete the message, place it back, drive back to the office – and he need to be in the office by 3.00pm so he won’t miss that management meeting with the CEO – finish off his day and go for Rebecca so they can go home together.
“God please let this plan work perfectly,” he said.
“What did you say?” the cab driver asked.
“I said don’t you have air con in your car?”
“Ei massa, 25 Ghana with air con? I don’t have but if I did you would have paid more for it,” he teased.
Jacob dipped his hand into his trouser pocket and brought out a handkerchief, dabbed the beads of sweat forming on his forehead and put the handkerchief back. The driver saw him through his rearview mirror.
“Massa, I think it will be better if you took off your jacket,” the cabbie advised.
Jacob thought about it for a second. “I think you are right,” he said as he adjusted his body and took off the jacket and placed it on his lap.
When he decided to raise his head to check where they were Jacob realized they had been stopped by the red light at the Nima Police Station junction. “Charley, where are you going to pass? Why didn’t you make the U-turn back there at the Swiss School?” he screamed.
“Massa have patience, I am sure you have not driven here in a while, huh? That man with his long beard who thinks he knows everything has blocked almost everywhere you can make a U-turn in Accra. Didn’t you see those multi-coloured plastic blocks where we used to make that turn?”
“So where are you going to turn now?”
“Well I think I will go round the police station and come back to these lights.”
“My God! Do you know how late I am?”
“I don’t know but, what else could I have done?” the driver asked with a shrug of his shoulders.
“You could have used the Fox FM traffic lights to Calvary Baptist Church and then go through Circle. Couldn’t you?” Jacob asked.
“I hear there is a lot of traffic at Circle and so I want to go through Joy FM, to Avenor, to Melcom Plus through North Kaneshie to St. Theresa’s School to Mother’s Inn Roundabout through Kaneshie Presby Church to Cocoa Clinic to….”
“That’s okay let’s just go,” Jacob cut him short.
The light changed to green and the driver sped off. As he had promised Jacob, the cabbie went through his planned route without meeting any traffic, at least not until they got to Avenor and headed towards Melcom Plus. There was a huge traffic that had formed from the main Industrial Area street. The blue uniformed community police were trying to maintain order at the junction that led from the main street to Avenor.
“Have you seen what you have put me into?” Jacob said.
“Massa this is not traffic, it will move soon.”
“Pray it does!” he looked at his watch and it was 11:15am.
“We have spent 45 minutes already and we are still nowhere,” he said to himself.
The traffic actually moved very fast and within the next ten minutes they had gone through North Kaneshie and were at the Mother’s Inn Roundabout and before long they were at the garage.
The cab came to a stop right in front of the garage and opening the back door, Jacob stepped down. He put his jacket under his armpit, pulled his wallet from the back pocket paid the driver GHC25 closed the door and walked into the fitting shop.
He was greeted by the usual chaos that happens at fitting shops: grinding, sawing, welding and sparing. He walked over to one of the garage hands in dirty apparel “Where is Mumini?” he asked the young man.
“Master Mumuni is gone to Abossey Okai,” the apprentice said.
“How could he have gone to Abossey Okai by this time,” Jacob said more out of desperation.
Just then a grey Honda Civic entered the premises of the garage.
“That’s Master Mumuni coming,” the apprentice told Jacob as he pointed to it.
The car drove to where Jacob and the apprentice were standing and parked. The lanky man who got out in his surprisingly neat mechanic’s overall was Jacob’s fitter – Mumuni.
“Ei, Mister Jacob what brings you here by this time?” the surprised Mumuni asked.
“I tried calling you but your phone was off. I need to go home badly to pick something very important. You can have it tomorrow if you don’t mind,” Jacob cut the chase to the subject.
“My phone fell in water when we were removing you engine block….”
“Removing my engine block?”
“Yes we removed your engine block in the morning. You know, I put it on the machine to identify the faults when I came back in the morning and it detected a few things that required that we open it up. So we had to take out the engine block,” Mumuni explained.
“So have you put it back?” Jacob asked although he knew the answer.
“No we have not put it back, my people were working on it as I had to go to Abossey Okai to get some parts.”
“So what do we do now? I need the car badly. Can you put it together so I can use it now and then you pick it up tomorrow?” he sounded desperate.
Mumuni shook his head, “it will take us another two hours to put it back together.”
“I am dead! So what do I do Mumuni, what do I do?”
“Well, we can do one of two things: we either get you a cab or we arrange one of the cars we are working on for your use,” Mumuni said.
Jacob pondered over the two options for a minute – although it seemed like eternity – before talking. “I can’t stand going with a taxi driver all the way to Aburi and back so let’s see what you can arrange.”
“I can give you this Honda Civic, you only have to fuel it and use.”
“Can you go with me, Mumuni? I don’t want to drive somebody’s car,” Jacob said.
“That makes sense but, I am very busy now Mister Jacob,” Mumuni almost pleaded. “I will ask my chief apprentice to go with you.”
“He knows how to drive”?
“Hahahahaha…Mister Jacob paa, which mechanic doesn’t know how to drive? But to answer your question, yeah he does. And I believe your car will be ready by the time you come back.”
Mumuni called his chief apprentice Akomea and briefed him on the task ahead. “You will drive Mister Jacob here to Aburi and back. You know there right?”
“Oh master! I come from Tutu,” Akomea said jovially.
“Can we go now?” Jacob asked to put pay to any long conversation between Mumuni and his chief apprentice.
“Sure,” Mumuni said as he handed the keys to Akomea.
Akomea sat behind the steering wheel and Jacob sat beside him in the front seat after he had hanged his jacket on top of his seat.
They drove off from the garage at midday exactly – according to Jacob’s designer watch – towards Aburi on a journey to save Jacob’s marriage.
Just when they got out of the garage Jacob heard his phone ring. He pulled it from his pocket and the caller ID said “Becky”. “What does she want,” he murmured before picking the call.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hello Jake, how are you doing?” Becky said.
“Well not much. I have been going round and round since I last spoke to you,” Jacob said almost pitifully.
“Doing what exactly?” she asked.
“I want to get home to pick the phone and delete the message and get back to work. Unfortunately my car has gone to the mechanic and I just got a new car and leaving Accra to Aburi,” he explained.
“Wow, that must be hellish,” Becky said.
“It’s more than that. You know what, let me sort this thing out and get back to you okay?”
“That’s okay, just let me know what happens,” Becky said.
“Okay, bye,” he said and he cut the line.
It was obvious from the onset that Akomea knew his way around Accra. He took the road that led to the North Kaneshie area to Kaldorf through the Tesano Police Station traffic lights and then took the turn on the Achimota overhead through the former Dimples Junction to Dzorwulu Junction to Tettey Quarshie. He took the right turn at the Shiashie taxi and “trotro” station towards the Lagos Avenue (or what Jacob refers to as Roast Plantain Avenue) and very soon they were at the Bawaleshie traffic lights.
They drove past the ICA and CIB buildings as well as the new office complex and went past the Mempeasem junction. Just when they crossed the main entrance of the Trinity Theological Seminary Jacob saw many cars parked at the junction that led to IPS. Akomea also saw it and his heart leapt in fear.
“What’s that?” Jacob asked.
“I think it is the police on operation,” Akomea said as they approached the scene.
Jacob almost fainted “Oh no, I hope they don’t stop us!”
“I hope so too because if they do we are dead.”
“How do you mean?”
“My driver’s licence expired last week and I am yet to renew it…”
“What?!” now Jacob was hyperventilating.
They got close to the police and the first one raised his left hand with the clipboard and signaled Jacob and Akomea with his right hand to stop. Akomea went forward a bit and stopped.
“Goddamn it I am dead, goddamn it I am dead!” Jacob almost shouted.
The policeman went to the driver side of the car poked his head in the open window and said to Akomea “Can I see your licence?”
Jacob heard his phone ringing but ignored it.
“I said can I see your licence?” the policeman said to Akomea again.
Jacob’s phone was ringing again. He pulled it out of his shirt pocket this time and looked at the screen. It was his office line.
“Hello,” he said when he picked the call.
“Hello Mr. Asante, please hold on and speak to your wife,” Ama said and without waiting to hear him say anything she gave the receiver to Rebecca.
“Jake where are you?” Rebecca bellowed into the mouth piece.
“Is that you Bekcie?” was all Jacob could mutter.
“It’s me, who else?” his wife said.
“Why are you on this line?” he still sounded confused.
“I came here to take you out to lunch but was told you had gone out and you know I could not have called you with my phone as I left it at home.”
“Yes sure, silly me.”
“That’s okay, but where are you?” she repeated.
“I am in the middle of something, Beckie. Can I get back to you shortly?”
“Middle of what?”
“I will get back to you shortly, please,” Jacob said and then cut the line.
To be continued……..
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