I smile to hide my pain, but the twinge in my heart is still the same. I feel burdened in a transparent society, aching with sympathy like it’s just me against the world, drowning in the abyss of darkness. I never hoped to see much more than I see now in my life, a Lone Wolf among beasts.
The day was overcast and the air was sharp, it was 7am and I had just woken up on a ripped sofa at the scrapyard where I invented auto engines and repairs, it wasn’t fancy it was more like an advanced dumpsite, I walked through the silent street covered by mist and thick fog I had arrived at my apartment and found the door locked.
I turned the key gently in the lock, opened the door and slipped through. I rolled my eyes at junior, the soft puff of breath on his neck showed he was still asleep, I shrugged out a golden jumbo lotto ticket from my pocket and looked up the numbers one last time before the draw took place at 9 o’clock, it was my 15th ticket in two days.
“Junior! Junior! Get your ass up it’s almost time for school” I yelled out impatiently
A bed spring creaked a brown skinned boy In his pajamas got up and stretched his arms above his head and yawned, he looked under the pillow instead of a coin the tooth fairy had given him nothing but a short night.
“I won’t be allowed in school with the other kids since I have outstanding debts in my bursary” he said looking sad
“No knowledge is a waste brother, gather whatever you can I’ll make sure I sort it out before the day ends, so Junior get ready for school!”
“Alright” he said and entered the bathroom
Junior was only Nine years old, he is the last person I call family we’ve been through so many hardships together ever since we lost our parents three years ago in a house fire. I made sure I did Everything to make life easier for him, we were left with nothing we got expelled from the family house after it was discovered that our late father took a loan from the bank and never made it up to them.
We moved into the street and slept under bridges for many months, I then took a chance on the lottery for survival. At first I made a couple amount of profits which was enough to rent an apartment and keep us out of the street, but then I lost my fortune later on during the process and had to start from scratch. I Put junior in an elementary school and struggled to pay his tuition fees, I get little credits sometimes when I put things in order at the yard so we managed whatever was put on the table.
“See you at three!” Junior said and grabbed his bag then proceeded to exit the apartment.
It was almost 9 o’clock and I had to be at the store to witness the lottery draw and verify my tickets before I returned to the scrapyard. So I jumped in the shower and got ready for another very long day, My stomach growled loudly, I moved to the fridge and opened it, still starving the fridge,however was empty there wasn’t anything to eat thus I hastily swallowed my hunger and left the house on an empty stomach.
I stepped out of the apartment and started down the stairs, then darted into a hallway to the exit. Suddenly there was a blaring noise of heavy metal music coming from a room, the door opened and behind it was Jim the wannabe thug and four boys, he looked big and tough he kept a straight face and walked towards me
“Didn’t you see me when you walked by?” Jim asked and shoulder tackled me
He reeked of alcohol and horse manure, it was his usual habit to encourage oppression.
“Not today Jim!” I exclaimed angrily
when I tried to get out of the way he pushed me to the floor. His shoes were covered with mud; he wore torn clothing and his hair was unkempt. I had a bewildered look on my face, I Never hoped to start the day battered and bruised.
“Will you never let me be?”
He jabbed his hands in my pocket,brought out my lottery ticket and then tore it to ribbons.
“Lotto boy!” one of the boys said laughing.
I stood up,picked up my things and walked away.
“Watch your back weirdie” Jim said
As they descended the stairs, the boys laughed and said I was foolish. Two ladies, Bianca and Ruth watched from the porch as I strode off.
“Don’t live an aimless life!” they suddenly exclaimed and then laughed.
I passed a man and his son who looked the other way as I neared them and whispered
“Do not be like him, few days ago I gave him a business card and all he could do was extract my phone number and then take it to the lottery retailer to generate a ticket”
“That is completely absurd, no wonder he looks like a dead man walking” The boy told his father.
They all disturbed as hell but wouldn’t be interested in helping, so that was it, this was what I passed through every single day of my life, but that never actually stopped me from buying a lottery ticket.
I walked down the street to the metrobus transit, tall apartment buildings lined up in a row by the roadside, sirens wailed in distance. Bocco was well known to be a very dangerous city, it wasn’t safe here the street was flooded with the likes of Jim, tough dudes lurked at every corner waiting to launch an ambush on passersby, only the dead aren’t scared. I reached the bus transit and boarded a bus going downtown.
I got off and walked another few minutes to the lottery store, I gently pushed the door open and walked slowly to the edge of the counter where the shopman firmly stood.
“Good morning sir, how may I help you?” he greeted and asked with a controlled smile.
I pulled out a ripped ticket and put it on the counter
“Did you wipe your tears with this?” he said with a look of puzzlement crossed on his face
“I’ll fix you up” The Shopman told me.
He looked up the serial number on a monitor and got back to me in less than a minute:
“Bashed”, “Better luck next time”
“Not even close, well green days ahead” I said as I made my way to the door
“Have a nice day sir!” The Shopman said and waived.
I strolled down to the scrapyard,it was only five blocks away from the lottery store. The yard was right before me, piles of rusted metal and smashed bodies of old cars littered the site, it was completely fenced with wire-mesh and had selfclosing gates.
A voice echoed from afar, I picked up a stone and attempted to throw it on the boys who scaled the fence with items they looted from the scrapyard. If they can get away with one thing, they might try to get away with more, so I ran after the awful scavengers but then it was too late they managed to flee with petty items before I got to them.
“They got away” I wheezed, "Bloddy scavengers"A strange voice had said
I rolled my eyes and looked over to see a dapper youngman who walked gingerly toward me and brought out a pack of cigarettes, it was Benjamin’s personal assistant Hali, he stood in front of me blocking my way he lit a cigarette, watched the smoke curl up high then turned toward me and said,
“I don’t want to see you here when I return tomorrow”
“you’re trespassing” I told Hali, “Tell Your boss to stay off this yard or I’ll throw your both overboard” I added and picked up a spanner.
He blew the smoke right in my face and sighed
“when I return, I will burn this place to the ground in the mean time have a wonderful day” He turned and walked away
“Tell Benjamin we need to talk, man to man!” I yelled to him as he left
“He doesn’t care” Hali replied
Benjamin was one of my favorite buddies from childhood, I mean we grew up together so we had alot in common, but the whole story changed one day when we ran into a little argy-bargy which led to the end of our friendship since then he never looked back, after the sudden death of his father Benjamin inherited his father’s fortune and got wealthy, he got so rich and forgot about his past. I tried to reach Ben several times but he was evidently so busy and never gave a chance to talk.
Benjamin desperately wanted the scrapyard he needed some space to construct a luxurious highrise lounge, so he wanted to lay his hands on the scrapyard by all means even tho he wasn’t going to pay a penny he believed everything could be acquired through wealth and power cause he had friends in high places. Little did he know what stood in his path, the yard was the last of my father’s fortune and it was willed to junior, so there was no way anyone could take it from us without paying for it.
I left the scrapyard and took a bus home, on the bus I could see a young boy standing he wore a black backpack, he looked totally unnerved and his eyes were dull
“you can have my seat” I offered
He introduced himself by name as he accepted the offered seat
"Thank you very much sir" he said then sank into the chair and sighted with relief.
So I spent the rest of the trip standing I failed already, my life was like an empty paper there was nothing to write about it, there was no way to get over with it I did all I could to survive, I attended multiple job interviews but it all ended in tears for one reason or another a CEO once threw me out of his office, yelled at me from a transparent glass and then kicked my inventions. But it didn’t end well for him, he was left with a swollen foot.
All these never changed me as I learnt from every failure and got bigger than my struggle. The bus came to a halt, I got off and walked home through the silent street, two men trotted from behind to catch up to me I could recognize them from the bus but I didn’t know what the problem was now
“Hey fella why did you do that back on the bus?” one of the men asked, “why did you help the kid” he added
“I don’t know I was just being cool” I said and walked towards them
He stretched out his hand for a handshake “my name is Issac and this is my friend Tom”
“I’m Andrew, it is a pleasure to meet you” I said
“what you did back there was incredible, I mean I never knew such love still existed in our city” Issac said smiling
“you’re a good man, Andrew” Tom said as the duo turned and walked away
I safely arrived home, junior looked out the window anticipating my return, as soon as I reached the doorstep he raced over and hugged me, we exchanged pleasantries and shut the door.The day passed and the sun went down it soon became time for dinner, I had prepared a bowl of rice for Junior it was the last food we had.
The final golden jumbo lottery draw was already taking place, so In desperation I turned on the TV and sat in silence. Junior was quiet while he had dinner, he suddenly asked
“where is yours?”
“I’ve eaten already, I had thrice the size of what you’re eating right now”
“Not long ago” I said focusing on the television
He ate several bites without responding, he knew I wasn’t telling the truth but he remained silent
“I’ve had enough food for the night” Junior said and walked out of the room
The belly full of food made him drowsy, I needed the meal so In his absence I picked up the bowl and devoured the food.
The TV presenter prepared to announce the final draw results, Junior walked in, winked at me and raised crossed fingers, I had five lucky numbers on my ticket to win the Fifteen million dollars Golden jumbo jackpot.
My lucky numbers were ‘7, 30,10, 45 and 52’.The presenter finally began announcing the results,
Even though I was excited I remained composed, three more numbers, just three
“we are going to be rich!” I yelled to Junior
After the announcement, there was a shocked silence, everything went blank.
“Did we win?” Junior’s voice echoed, “I hope they forgive us” he cried out
It felt like I had a dagger in my heart and that I would never feel cheerful again
“Andrew, Andrew! Come with me you have to see this” Junior exclaimed.
We rushed to the window and looked out, I could see a man lying helpless on the ground by the roadside. I rushed down the creaky stairs and dashed to the man who was barely alive, I grabbed him by the arm and took him inside the apartment. Junior then bolted the door for protection.
He was tall and slender with dark skin, ravishibg brown eyes and a tattoo of a bull on his neck that made him appear strange. He was temporarily incapacitated he must have been attacked on the street, what if he was a thug and got attacked by rivals? what if they returned to finish him off? It was late since I already took him in.
He suddenly pushed himself up and made his way towards me, he grabbed me and asked
“How did I get here?”
“umm you just fell from the roof” I said and pushed myself away
“please don’t hurt us sir” junior said sadly
He walked towards Junior and patted his head then he asked him
“what is your name boy?”
“Junior”,“we found you lying on the street, so we decided to help” he added
“Please call me Mark”
“what happened back there Mark?” I asked
“They were two, just two of them I wasn’t cooperating so one grabbed me by the throat as the another twisted my arms behind my back they took all my stuffs” Mark told me
“it’s not safe out there” I said
Mark looked around and got puzzled after seeing so much lottery tickets littering the floor
"Is this a lottery store?" he asked
A smile flickered across Junior’s face and turned into a laugh. Believe it or not sharing a good laugh can increase happiness and fend off one’s misery, it’s been years since I saw junior so excited. Mark’s presence meant alot to us even if we didn’t really know him we felt alive again. I cleaned his wounds and dressed then with sterile bandages before we went to bed.
The morning Sun yawned across the city,The first rays of sunlight lit up my room, another day had dawned. A stream of light in my eyes rudely awakened me, I got up and stretched, I couldn’t find mark sleeping on the couch in the living room he was gone, he left with no trace.
“Junior where’s mark?” I asked curiously
“I don’t know he was on the couch lastnight” he said and rubbed his sleepy eyes with the back of his hand.
“okay get ready for school while I find him”
I took a jaunty stroll through the street, there was no clue so I headed back home. Three SUVs stopped in front of the apartment and six men alighted from the vehicles. I could recognize a man standing among them it was Mark, Junior ran towards him and gave him a warn hug, he was happy seeing him in a better condition.
When they got upstairs their faces became more familiar it was Issac and Tom the men from the bus transit, the hall was silent neighbors couldn’t resist peeping as we walked to my apartment, they locked their doors and windows, Jim and the boys were no where to be found it was a sign that Mark’s heavy presence was intimidating. We got inside and had a nice time, Mark reintroduced himself as the son of Jack Nathan one of the biggest oil tycoon in Bocco, he told his crew how junior and I saved his life. Tom and Issac were street boys they bragged about being very famous on the street they called it a platoon and claimed to be the “Senior Men” they were Mark’s childhood friends from high school.
Mark got to know more about me, I told him about the scrapyard and showed him my inventions that were presently at home, before he left he wished me respectfully and said that he would support me in every way, he dropped some cash for Junior’s tuition and thanked us once again.
While escorting them through the hallway Tom suddenly asked
“Does anyone bother you?”
“Not really” I said
“He’s lying” Junior interrupted
“They call him Jim, he lives next door”
Junior bravely led them to Jim’s room it was the first time Jim’s apartment was so quiet
“Open the door now” Tom yelled and banged on the door
“There’s no one home” a voice cried out
I could sense the fear in that voice it could be one of Jim’s boys. Issac pounded on the door and flunged it open, the apartment looked like a goat’s shelter, there was crumbs all over the floor and there’s food splattered all over the microwave.They charged at a teenager trying to hide inside a refrigerator, they dragged him out and asked of Jim’s whereabouts
“Over there” he said pointing at the Kitchen’s cabinet
Jim was finally found hiding inside the cupboard and the rest of his crew underneath the bed.
Issac threatened to beat them up and expel them from the city if they ever touched a hair on my head. Jim shrugged and then shivered.Tom made him apologize for everything he did to Junior and I, the overall effect was surprising it was really jaw dropping to see Jim and the boys being humbled. Jim was seen as a champion in the whole apartment but from this moment he just made it clear to be a coward and no-one was ever going to fear or respect him.
Jim suddenly fell on his knees, his eyes overflowed with tears he regretted every single thing he did to us, as for his disciples they ran away from the apartment breaking the twigs in their hurry to disappear.
I saw them off, they got into the car and drove away. It was time for work I got ready and proceeded to the scrapyard while junior went to school, on getting there I could notice some strange operations going on at the yard. The scrapyard had been razed and a fortress built upon it’s ruins, so that was it, my life fell apart all my dreams were shattered and there was no way forward.
I stood still watching in agony, pain consumed me I couldn’t believe my eyes. A white limousine made a halt in front of me, a middle aged man stepped out dressed in an all white outfit, it was him, it was Benjamin. I tried to confront him but Hali ordered the security men to restrain me.
I yelled till I lost my voice
“Take him away” Benjamin ordered
The security men then whisked me away
“you used to be innocent back in the days but now you’re nothing but a monster” I told Benjamin
“You become a god when you learn to turn your back on your past, look at what I am today I am unstoppable” Benjamin said confidently
“If you keep on chasing after everything you will run into your doom sooner than you expected, you have only won the battle the war has just began” I said
They threw me out of the yard, I was left with nothing. I made my way home so I could safeguard what remained of my inventions and leave Bocco for good. The apartment was as silent as the grave, I stood outside and stared into the sky.
“Take care of your brother” A voice said
No one was around me it sounded like my father, I could sense my soul drifting away from my body and taking me to a peaceful place. Did something happen to Junior? I asked myself, I fell on my knees and cried.
“Hey why are you crying” Junior asked from the window,“Did we lose another bet?” he added
“Wait a second why are you at home by this time?” I asked
“I kept on hearing dad’s voice, he said I should come home”
I rushed upstairs, entered the room, grabbed junior by the shirt collar and said
“Don’t you get it, he is dead, he left this world many years ago I watched the light fade from his eyes”,
“If he was here we would never feel lonely in a crowded world, you would attend the best school and he would make sure we ate three square meals with no regrets. It’s over junior we’re leaving” I added
“it isn’t over yet” Junior said
I rolled my eyes at him, I could feel a flame burning inside him.
“You are my father, you never made me feel lonely, you take me to one of the best school and you make sure I never starve” he cried
I drew him closer and hugged him.
“Junior we lost the yard” I stammered
He laughed and said
“I have something for you”
He brought out an envelope from his backpack, he said a stranger had approached him on his way back from school, the stranger then gave him the envelope to deliver it to me. It had the seal of a mega automotive company called Starhub, unknowingly someone had already recommended me to Starhub, in the body of the letter they asked me to call a number whenever I had the chance. Without hesitation I picked up my phone and dialed the number, but there was no response it kept on declining. Not long after a black exotic SUV turned up right in front of the apartment, Junior and I hurried down the stairs to find out who it was.
It was an official from Starhub he identified himself as a chauffeur. He then asked us to come with him, we got in the car and drove off. It was our first time riding in a luxurious vehicle, Junior kept asking if we were inside a space ship and I would tell him to be careful not to push the red button so he doesn’t launch a missile to Jim’s apartment. We soon arrived at the destination, a community of modern building stood tall together in the city centre, the buildings galloped up to the clouds and they all glittered like gold.
The car finally stopped infront of an apartment, we then got down and walked into the apartment, it was the most beautiful thing we ever saw. When we got to the living room, I met mark and a man seated, the man was the CEO of Starhub he said Mark told him alot about me and that he sent scouts to the yard to verify Mark’s recommendation. He said the company wishes to employ me as the deputy principal inventor of Starhub, he then added “This apartment belongs to you and that man is your personal chauffeur”
I didn’t understand why this had happened I got nervous and said
“This is too much I’m not taking it”
“Well I will take it in his place” Junior said and jumped on the couch.
I was very excited I didn’t see any of it coming I thanked Mark for all his generosity, still surprised junior asked
“what is this place”
“A new world” I told him
Few days later a petition was made against Benjamin’s brutal decisions he was arrested and charged to court on multiple offences. He forfeited the scrapyard and was sentenced to prison for evading arrest on different occasions, his friends in high places couldn’t save him this time. Starhub funded the demolishing on the scrapyard and it was mine once again, after the town planning granted me access to the scrapyard. A large signboard was mounted right infront of the yard, it read ‘The Smith Brothers’.It was a breakthrough for Junior and I, we just won a jackpot without spending a dime on a ticket. This made me realise the only way you win the lottery is when you stop buying tickets.
The journey continues, the dice keeps rolling you win some or you lose some. What is worst today may be best tomorrow.