I heard the car door slam shut before I even saw him coming. I was staring anxiously at my phone screen. My eyes were squinted, partly from the back-light and partly from the last blazing rays of the setting sun in the distance. A trotro horn honked loudly, and inaudible obscenities were hurled behind me as he climbed in. I revved the engine, and jerked forward only to be stopped by the row of stagnant vehicles.
“Chale, the traffic be serious!” He shouted, as he scooted to the middle of the backseat.
“How did you find me?” I asked, still confused. My eyes darted to and from the rearview mirror, trying to get a good look at him without staring. He was stout and stocky but young-looking. He was wearing a bright red jacket with a fedora hat, and he had a slight twinkle in his eyes. Something about him made me think of Kweku Ananse- the trickster.
He grinned. “I saw you trying to call me.”
I wanted to ask how he knew it was him I had called, but I left it alone.
“Anyway, thanks for meeting me on such short notice. I wasn’t sure this was a good idea, but Fred told me you were good.” I said, my hands gripping the steering tensely.
He didn’t respond; seemingly distracted by something.
“How’s Sandra?” he said, his gaze fixed on some hawkers outside.
I froze. “How do you know her?”
He leaned back and laughed heartily. “My friend, is that not why you called me? You’re asking me ‘how do I know her?’- ha! I do my job well, okay? I know Sandra. And I know you.”
I said nothing, feeling uneasy and wondering exactly how much he knew.
He sensed my discomfort. “Relax, eh, I’m here to help you. We’ll get her back, don’t worry. Now, how long has it been?”
I hesitated, slightly wary and slightly embarrassed. “two years,” I said finally.
“Two years! And you haven’t forgotten her? O boy, you need a psychologist, not me. Or prayers.”
Fred had warned me about his playful cheek. I was silently raging, but desperate.
“I’ve tried everything. I can’t forget about her. I don’t beg or stalk or anything. I just can’t forget her. I love her. Please.”
“And you know she’s getting married in two weeks?” His eyes were fixed on mine in the rear-view mirror. He was testing me.
“Look. I’m not a home wrecker. I was told you could fix things, make things right, the way they were supposed to be. That’s all I want.”
His gaze became softer and softer, until it was as though he wasn’t looking at me, but remembering something himself. He was quiet for what seemed like forever. I looked out the window. It was getting darker.
“You messed up, man. Everything was perfect! I made sure of it. Five minutes later and she would have left campus, the day you first saw her outside Balme library. Did you know that? Five minutes. Then I came in, and the sparks flew. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. Mtchew.”
I was scared out of my wits. How the hell did he know all this? This was some kind of gimmick. Had Fred told him?
I looked in the rear-view mirror, wild-eyed, my hands shaking slightly. “Boss, are you a prophet?”
He gave me a scornful look and turned back to the window in silence. I was contemplating throwing him out of the car.
“It was a steel arrow.” he said finally.
“Odɔ yewu. The love wound that never heals- that’s what you have.”
There was more silence, swallowed by the ambient sounds of traffic on the highway.
“You know what, eh? Come and see me in my office on Monday. I’ll see what I can do for you. Don’t look so down eh? It’s not nice.”
I laughed after he said that.
“Yeeeesssss pure water!” the loud shriek of a young girl passing my car startled me. The traffic dragged forward and I moved the car, glad to get away.
“Where exactly is your office loca…” I turned to ask, but he was gone.
A tiny business card lay where he had been. I stretched my free arm out and picked it up.
Kwame Cupid, Love Doctor. Call for further enquires.
** According to the Kingis Quair, The Greek god Cupid owned and fired three types of arrows. The gold, for a gentle smitin; the silver, for a stronger feeling, and steel, the love wound that never heals.