In this episode…
Aby concocts an enjoyable yet dangerous soda at Bull’s Park leading to events that kick Bull’s ass out of business. All the customers run over to Rhino’s Recipes but little does they know of the evil schemes right underneath the new popular Fast Food in Sandton!
ABY’S MILK-SODA EXPLODES IN OUR BODIES (part 2)
On Saturday noon, Mr. Bulls is as usual, in his Park. His waiters lazily snooze around the table benches. He’s got an eyepatch on too. I’m with Lisa, Leo and Aby and we’re on our way there. Once he sees people knocking on the glass door he shakes his head in disbelief. Is he that bad? I wonder. He can’t believe he’s finally having some customers. His waiters are too sleepy to notice so he runs himself to the door and opens for us.
“Welcome!” he says with an extraordinary smile that proves he hasn’t had any ‘business smiles’ for quite a while. Leo and Lisa waltz in behind him while I wait outside with Aby. I’ve got one arm around my sister as we watch what happens inside. I suddenly get the feeling I miss Bull’s Park too. There’s no place like this and Rhino’s Recipes can never replace it.
Mr. Bulls has a towel in hand and he wipes his fingers as he gazes at Lisa and Leo. It’s like he’s trying to look impressive or something-something he doesn’t do.
“What’s the eyepatch for?” asks Leo.
“Um… Had a talk with Rhino and things got a bit… out of hand,” he removes the eyepatch to reveal a fat swollen eye. Poor thing! It looks like it’s peeling off from here!
“Okay,” says Lisa, a bit revolted. She hates eye injuries.
“So you come to get anything? A drink? A cocktail? French fries? Hotdogs? Lasagna? Anything Italian or a Sudanese recipe?” he asks.
Lisa orders a Fanta and has her seat on a bench. Leo asks for the same. Mr. Bulls wastes no time waking up the waiters, he delivers the sodas by himself.
“So how’s business going on here?” asks Lisa as her soda arrives.
“Uh… Good. Just fine. My Park is running great,” says Mr. Bull which is obviously not true at all.
“Really?” says Leo.
Bull nods his head like he’s trying to convince himself as well. “Yeah really. It’s never been better.”
“How many customers have you had this week?” asks Lisa, sipping her cold Fanta.
He looks at the ceiling, “A couple.”
“Mind if my sister comes in?” asks Leo.
Lisa’s got a smile. “You serious?”
“Heck I’m serious! She’s the reason for all this!” shouts Bull, pointing at Aby outside standing next to me.
“For all what?” says Leo.
Mr. Bull is silent. He turns his back and says, “That’s nine rand.” He’s about to go back to the counter but then Lisa’s words pull him back.
“Just admit it,” says Lisa. “You’re drowning! You’ve had only two customers this week. One for pancake, the other your mother who you had to give free pizza to.”
“I’ll be fine!”
“Don’t think so. I mean, you sold your own car and this place is still on it’s way to bankruptcy.”
“If it wasn’t for your sister my Park would still be running fine.”
“It’s not a park!” shouts Aby from outside.
Mr. Bulls steams up, “SHUT UP!” His temper flares at the sight of her.
“Easy,” I whisper to Aby.
“It’s not entirely her fault,” Leo pulls out a bottle from his bag and shows Bull a few words, “It’s written here, Aby and Bull’s Milk-soda. You can’t put all the blame on her.”
“She produced it. It was supposed to be safe.”
“Mr. Bull, not everything here is legal. We know that,” says Lisa. Bull turns his face away. “But we’re not here to mock you. I think we can help each other here.”
Mr. Bull looks like he’s giving it a thought. “How can you help? I admit I’m drowning.”
“I think I can find a way to help you beat Rhino,” Lisa puts on her swag now. She’s getting somewhere with this.
“I’d give anything to see that alien in the gutter!”
“Um… I’m meant a legal method of solving our problems,” she clarifies.
“Like I said, I’d give anything.”
“Anything,” he repeats.
“You’ll let my sister in here again?”
Bull’s eyebrows come together. He’s pondering hard on this one.
“All right. If all is well and you can find a way to get this Park in business again, Aby can come again.”
Lisa smiles, “Thanks for understanding it my way. And… we want free food and drinks here for two weeks.”
“Well, it’s better than having to shut this place down, right?”
Bull sighs heavily and agrees.
“Okay, you got a deal but how will you do this miracle?” he says, crossing his arms over his chest.
“I think I’ve got something on him. He’s gonna sink his own boat. My job is to make sure it sinks,” she tells.
He beams down at her, “How?”
“Leave it to me and my family.”
I’ve got to admit, Lisa’s really good at this leave-it-to-me stuff. She places nine rand in his hands, turns around and leaves with Leo. She finds us outside, waiting.
“It’s done,” she says. “All that’s left is to make sure Rhino’s ship sinks.”
“How?” says Aby curiously.
“Leo,” says Lisa, “You’re a brilliant hacker. I need you to get me all of St. Godwin’s utility bills for the past two months and all of Rhino’s utility bills as well. I need to know exactly how much Rhino’s personal account is. Alex, I need a map of power lines and all underground pipes around the school’s local area. Aby I need you to chill. All right that’s it. Now let’s get to work!”
I’m sweating on my laptop in my room. I’ve tried google maps but all I get is the surface. The power lines were easy to find. I drew them from the screen to a paper. It’s so difficult to get the underground map of pipes. I think I’ve searched about a hundred sites already. My sweat beads drop on the keyboard I’ve been hitting for so long.
“You done kid?” says Leo. He’s already hacked all the info Lisa asked for and I can’t even find a map! I give in to a word called help. Leo comes to my assistance.
“Kid this is my thing. Leave it to me,” he says. I move over to give him some room. He inserts his drive to install his very own hacking program and then starts looking for the maps. He clicks open a few links and bingo! I’m staring at Johann turned up side down with all it’s pipes and tunnels appearing on my laptop screen. Leo pats my back.
“And I didn’t even have to hack a thing,” he says, “But still, leave this kind of homework to me.”
“Are these all the pipes in Johannesburg?” I say.
“Yup. All the ones in use that is.”
“How up to date is it?”
Leo scrolls down and spots a date at the bottom right corner. It was updated yesterday. We get it printed out and show our work to Lisa. She’s in her room doing homework when we come.
“That was fast,” she says.
“Leo helped,” I hand her our homework. She gives them a hard look the way Mrs. Gala does when examining my classwork. There’s a smile on her face once she goes through the bills Leo hacked for her.
She snaps her fingers, “Bingo!”
“Bingo what?” says Leo.
“I’ve got him. Rhino is out of business. All I need now is a cop and two engineers with a warrant to investigate Rhino. Or I could just inform the principal. Yeah, that would be better and much easier.”
“What did you find?” I ask.
“What evidence?” she’s really playing with my curiosity.
“I’ll tell you on our way to school. We’ve got to speak with the principal.”
“But what did Rhino do wrong?” says Leo.
“Come on, I’ll tell you on the way.”
Aby walks in. She’s heard our conversation. “Then why don’t we confront Rhino straight away. If you involve the principal she’s gonna know Leo hacked in their records and she’s not gonna like that.”
“She’s right,” I say, “It’s best we go ourselves.”
Leo nods in agreement.
“But with a cop,” I say.
Lisa picks up her phone from the desk and dials. “No, cops aren’t what we need. We need a detective.”
“But it seems you’ve solved the case already,” says Leo.
“But I don’t work for the police and I don’t have a warrant of investigation.”
Lisa, she deserved one. After she informs the police about some gas pipe scheme she turns to us as says we’ve got to go to Rhino’s… For a bit of fun.
Rhino’s Recipes is full today. But these folks belong to Bull’s Park. They’re the same poor faces who gulped down milk-soda a week ago. Lisa leads the way to the counter where workers buzz around wearing hats with one horn sticking out. Rhino’s a total plagiarizer! That’s Bull’s style.
“Yes how may I help you?” asks a worker. Leo reads the name-tag silently: Bark Bark. What a name! It definitely wasn’t his real name.
“May I see the owner, or manager?”
The worker raises both brows. “You want to see Rhino?”
“I think he has a name,” says Lisa.
“He prefers to conceal his identity,” he explains.
“Like you prefer to be called Bark Bark?”
“For security and relations purposes. If you have a query concerning our chosen identities please see Eggplant, our relations officer and-”
“Cut the crap and call me your manager!” says Lisa. She’s firing up.
“Right away ma’am. ‘The Rhino’ is his name-”
“Just call him already!”
“Yes ma’am,” and he disappears through the door. Sheesh! Talk about customer care! Bull was much more social.
“These guys are up to something for real,” says Leo, “These false identities aren’t for nothing.”
Rhino finally comes out of his office and to the counter, wearing a four thousand rand suit.
“How may I help you, children?”
Lisa cringes at the word children.
“Thanks but for the record, we are not children.”
“I apologize. So what brings-”
“We know your scam!” Aby blurts out. Oh why did she have to say that so early? I guess we just have to flow with it now.
Rhino takes a deep breath and then gets his posture and poker-face together. “I know nothing of a scam in here and I can assure you-”
“Shut up,” says Lisa. “I’ve got the evidence to prove what you’ve done.”
“And what is that?”
“It’s about your gas. Looks like you haven’t had a bill ever since you’ve started!”
Rhino’s mouth gaps open. You can tell he’s hiding his fear under that poker-face. But then he turns sinister, the look in his eyes flashes the stare of a criminal. His hand wraps around a knife on the counter. Lisa doesn’t move. Leo comes closer.
“Now listen to me all of you,” he says, “Our financial issues are none of your business. Turn around and find a table.”
Bark Bark comes back and stands beside Rhino. “Bark, show our guests a table and get them some drinks.”
“No way,” I say, “We’re not going to let you get away with this!”
“I think you kids should follow me,” says Bark. He looks scared too. He goes round the counter to us and suddenly, I notice Lisa’s as stiff as metal. Bark is really close to her and speaks quietly to her. I get a glance of her face and she’s wearing a really worried look. What’s wrong here?
“Guys, let’s get a table,” Lisa says, but her voice is shriveling like she’s scared. No! She is scared! She turns around, Bark is behind her and I don’t trust the dog anymore.
“Alex,” she says. “Go ghetto!”
I know what that means and before Bark knows what she means, I fly and crash down to the floor with him. Lisa spins around and I hear metal clink to the floor. Beside Bark’s hand is a pistol with a silencer and I’m like what the hell! Bark is struggling but Leo knocks him out in a kick. I look up and Rhino’s gone. And so is Lisa. The door behind the counter is swinging on it’s hinges and we immediately know where they’ve gone.
“What’s going on?” screams Aby and the whole place turns into chaos once people see the gun on the floor.
“Stay with Aby,” Leo tells me and he leaps over the counter and runs after Lisa and Rhino.
Apart from the lunatics in here who are screaming, I also hear…
Desks being turned over.
Knives dropping to the floor.
“Uff…. Aaargh… Uff… Aaargh…” someone’s getting their ass whopped and he deserves it!
“Careful that’s my thousand rand picture frame… NO!… Wait, wait, it hurts that way! Ow, ow, ow! Not the golden tooth… Aaargh! That belonged to my uncle.”
A police car pulls over outside just in time as Leo and Lisa drag Rhino back and tie him to a table with rope. He looks miserable! Looks like he’ll be the next one wearing an eyepatch. Make that two because both his eyes look like tennis balls.
An officer and engineers and a detective finally arrive and stare at the scene.
“I made the call,” says Lisa, “My name’s Lisa and these are my siblings.”
They take a look around at the mess.
“You reported the gas scheme?” asks the detective.
“Yes,” she nods.
The officer gazes down at a pathetic looking manager and shows him a badge and ID, “Mr. Rhino, we have a warrant to investigate.” The officer gestures to the detective and engineers who at once head for the basement. The place is deserted. It’s just us. Not even the workers stuck around. They all ran away except for Bark who hasn’t a clue of what’s happening. He might get jail time for attempted murder.
There’s lots of drilling happening downstairs and the police is getting bored so he asks how we found out about Rhino’s dirty business.
“It was my sister, Lisa who found out,” I say.
“But Leo understands what’s been going on,” says Lisa and pulls out some papers from her bag and hands them to the police.
The officer examines our detective work and smiles, “Well, young man, explain then.”
Leo clears his throat. Aby and I are having a laugh because we know he sucks at public speaking and ever since he was little he’s been scared of cops.
“Well,” he begins, “It’s like this. We all got suspicious of Rhino because he’s been making lots of money fast. And it’s just not normal for that to happen in just a week. So we decided to see if there was anything fishy going on.
“Rhino works close to the school and it’s easy to know that it’s because he wants the kids at school to come here. Why not? It’s near. But Lisa thought there was more than that for Rhino to open up at this very spot. During the week she overheard our school accountant complaining about an enormous rise in the school’s bills and so we suspected a link.”
Leo seems cool and all sure of himself. Lisa’s smiles.
“So we did some homework. We put together different maps of power lines and underground pipes in the locality and we got our school’s utility bills and Rhino’s bills as well, and we compared them. The startling thing was that our gas school’s gas bill has risen twice as much while Rhino doesn’t have a gas bill at all! And right then we know why he opened up here. He’s illegally using gas from the school’s gas pipes. He must’ve got an engineer to do the dirty business for him. All he had to do was stick a pipe in the school gas pipe to deliver free gas to his kitchen! He didn’t pay for gas, expenses went down, profits rise up.”
The officer nods and I see he’s extremely impressed.
The detective comes back up and his expression is promising. He smiles at Lisa.
“How did you do it?” he asks.
“The boy just told me,” said the police, “And I’m just bewildered.”
“It’s called uncommon sense,” I say.
The detective confirmed that the evidence is true and Rhino’s Recipes is as good as closed!
“And you are under arrest,” the police untied Rhino and fixes handcuffs around his hands. Bark is taken away too as a suspected accomplice. The gun’s put into a zip lock bag and taken away for further evidence. But the rest doesn’t matter because it gets complicated now the cops and forensic get into the picture. The good thing is, actually there’re two good things. Rhino is out of business and… All right you know already.
Bull’s Park is running back in business! The next Monday we’re sitting at our favorite table and we’re with Aby. Mr. Bull doesn’t hate her anymore (as usual, it’s just business to him) and neither does she. Asher’s here too and we’re teasing her about the milk-soda thing. Bull’s letting us have whatever we want for free for a whole fortnight just as we agreed. And we’re using that privilege to the fullest.
“Aby,” I say, “The next time you want to make your own brand of liquid time bombs, try it on… well, just be careful.”
She chuckles, it’s nice to see her happy again. But hey, I’ve got one more bottle of milk-soda under the table and even though I know it’s dangerous, it’s still worth the sip. There’s nothing as good and as bad as Aby’s sweet explosive Milk-soda!