Dan was only 11 when his professional diplomats family moved to the African capital.
It was going to be a six year shift and it took him only 3 days to love it there, just like his little sister Dora: their mum had signed them both up for boxing classes in the most dangerous neighbourhood of the city.
Dora and Dan had been listening behind the door to all their parent’s discussion about what afterschool activity their kids should do.
They didn’t want their kids to grow up inside a golden bubble- so they had finally agreed about the boxing.
Dan and Dora were of an age when school was wartime torture, playgrounds the climax and going back home at night where mum and dad were always entertaining guests a mild bore.
But Dan had a problem which he didn’t know would last him for years to come- he wetted his bed at nighttime.
His mum had discreetly introduced him to endless experts who failed to solve the problem.
” Studying is just a shortcut to life’s delicious desserts” was what the kid’s dad always told them, and this had made them tick, they were happy to finish their homework quick before boxing, just to come back home exhilarated and exhausted after the classes.
Dora didn’t mind Tutu the boxing teacher’s strictness, but Dan wished he could one day grow up and give him a punch in the belly til he wetted himself, for Tutu often made fun of him in front of all the class.
Winnie, the receptionist, loved to wear both Dan and Dora’s jewels while they were training, and always joked about not returning the jems, for they were not allowed to wear jewels while boxing.
The kids mum had instructed them to only use their boxing skills in a life emergency, and to help struggling little boxers to improve their skills, for they were good at it.
But up came the time where Dan started to fancy the girls. He was 13 and 2 years had flown, between the school and boxing routine, learning how to entertain VIPs and travelling around the world first class.
Dan was particularly interested in Lucie, the daughter of the French consular, who dropped by many times and slept over in Dora’s room.
So it was his 14 th birthday. His parents were at a cocktail and let him throw a party. For the first time he drunk beer and danced with Lucie, when she asked him to show her his medals collection in his bedroom.
He was proud. She asked if she could give him one as a souvenir from him, for soon her father would be destined elsewhere, and threw herself onto his bed.
” What is this, a towel under the sheets?”
Dan snatched the silver medal off her little hand and ran out to the boxing club, hurt, filled with shame and almost crying.
He was usually driven there by the chauffeur in their Mercedes, but this time he needed to breathe in and out all the entire spare oxygen that humanity could ever gasp.
Once he got to the club, he was even more struck by the fact the Winnie wasn’t there, he desperately needed to talk to her, let all the pain and shame out, even be cuddled, this young teenager who would grow up to be the craftiest businessman needed a cuddle from Winnie, the 17 year old young receptionist who loved to wear his grandmothers Cross while he was boxing.
Tutu the teacher told Dan to join the class, even if they were all over 21s, and that Winnie should be coming back at some point because she had forgotten her glasses over the desk.
Dan didn’t want to box, but what else could he do? He had already had one lesson that day and felt exhausted, and what was his surprise when he saw Lucie’s cousin there, aged 22, tanned, tattooed and giving him the eye?
” Where have you left my Lucie? Didn’t she give you your first kiss?”
Dan was now furious. Not a furious teenager, but a furious man, who was scorned at and ready to box with his jewels on.
There was a mini tournament, and when it was Dan’s turn to fight Fabien, that idiot, he was going to make a papier mache mask out of his face, even if he’d had to wet himself.
So the fight happened. It was not long, for Winnie had come back for her glasses and was looking through the window, at the class.
” Come out here, golden boy, you ain’t ought to fight these gangster wannabes. What’s the matter, you look furious?”
There was a silence. One of those silences where telepathy seems to occur. It lasted 5 seconds but something magic was born then and there between the two youngsters.
” Here’s a towel, got get a hot shower and we’re going for a walk “.
” No, I got no time to queue for a shower, I need to get home to watch over Dora, there’s many sharks at my home party, and I already missed the birthday cake “.
Winnie and Dan went out under the stars for what was going to be the most life changing conversation in his life.
They talked about everything, growing, moving counties all the time, how Winnie had to drop school to upbring her siblings, how the last war had left a scar forever.
Dan didn’t even realise he was opening up about his bed wetting problem, when Winnie spontaneously said ” yes, my uncle used to have that, after he had swallowed a fish bone and heard his mother shout hysterically ” he’s dead, he’s dead”.
At that moment the young soul had a very vivid memory about getting locked up in an airline toilet cabinet and the Pilot shouting ” open the door or we’ll throw you out of the window” when he was only 4 years old.
This was the main cause of his bedwetting and he was now cured, forever.
He kissed Winnie goodbye, she let him kiss her then said, rather shyly
” I’m married but I liked the kiss. Dont tell anyone! Sleep well, Golden boy. Oh! And you may now train to become a part time junior boxing teacher, Tutu has been considering this over the past month!”
She hugged him tight and walked away briskly.
When Dan got back home the party was almost over, there were fast cars and very old cars too waiting to collect the naughty guests, and he found on his desk a note from Lucie
” Happy Birthday. I won’t say anything about the towel. I’ll runaway from home tomorrow at midnight to see you, with my chauffeur’s help. Good night boxer.”