Thursday, January 19, 2006

nii ayikwei parkes...fiction extract

Below is a new 'First Page' from writer Nii Ayikwei Parkes. It's from his novel-in-progress. Enjoy...

I had grown used to death, its weight, and its company. It surrounded me. The bloodiest death came just when I was about to escape. Like a sign.

I was combing through the bustle of Accra Central, heading out towards Kingsway Store to buy ham and baking soda for my mother. Because of the sheer number of people in the area around the market and the commercial centre many of us were walking through in the middle of the road. I heard a screeching sound and turned to see a Bedford truck with a locally-made wooden wagon hurtling down towards me. The driver's mate was leaning at an acute angle outside the doorless passenger side, making pre-flight wing motions with his arms, shooing people. Screaming, No brake, no brake, a dze gbe le mli, while the driver wrestled with the hoarse gears to bring the vehicle under control.

I jumped out of the way and felt a severe back spasm just as I landed on the pavement side of the gutter beside the road. I fell on my rear groaning. When I looked back at the road I saw a muscled, bare-chested man walking directly into the path of the lorry. His eyes were fixed on me. I waved to indicate I was OK but he didn't seem to notice. His face was composed and he showed no sign of fear.

The entire crowd yelled at him to move; Buulu, dze gbe le mli, Kwasia, you no go move? It was clear he had more than enough time. I was paralysed by pain as I watched him amble to the middle of the road and smile at me as the truck struck him clean in the back and his head exploded in all directions. People dodged out of the way of his airborne blood as the truck careered into the side of the police barracks and stopped. The driver's mate himself was tossed out by the impact and was rescued from the top of a bougainvillea hedge by some men in the crowd. The driver was slumped over his wheel, alive but shocked. The truck was juxtaposed between the gutter and the low wall of the police barracks, one rear wheel still spinning, the imprint of the man marking its front.

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