Kevo sat in the back seat of his mum’s car in a drug-fueled haze. The trees and the buildings melded into one conglomerate of waves, going much slower than the speed of the car. His body felt like a pile of mush. One part in particular, somewhere in the back of his mouth, tinged with urgency. That was where the weird sound was coming from.
It was a distant whisper at first, then it became more insistent as the drugs wore off and that bothered Kevo. Shouldn’t the hallucination fade with the drugs instead of becoming stronger? And it knew his name.
“Kevo,” said the voice in his mouth. “Kevo you shit-for-brains can you hear me?”
Kevo blinked and tried to shake the hallucination out of his head.
“I’m not literally inside of your head dumbass, so I can’t hear your thoughts. Say yes if you can hear me.”
Kevo’s mum in the driver’s seat turned around and smiled at him.
“Oh, baby, you’re sober again,” she said. “How’s the new filling feel? That drug the dentist gave you really knocked you out. We had to drag you in here with a forklift.”
“Not surprising since you had a double-footlong for lunch,” said the voice in his mouth.
“How do you know what I had for lunch?” said Kevo. He was panicking now, a cold sweat broke on his forehead and his heart pounded faster than it ever did during PE classes.
His mum gave him a confused look in the rear-view mirror.
“Because I’m the one who bought you lunch,” said his mum. “Guess that morphine hasn’t quite worn off yet.”
“She can’t hear me because I’m inside your shiny new filling.” said the voice with a smug tone. “Only you can. Now shut up before you make a fool of yourself.”
Kevo’s mouth opened and closed like it was on a winch and his mind raced. What did that dentist put inside him?
“Now listen. A couple-hundred meters up the road you’re going to tell your mum to stop so that you can use the bathroom.”
“But I don’t need to use the bathroom,” said Kevo.
“Just does as you’re told,”
The car swerved as Kevo’s mum jumped with fright.
“Kevin what’s going on back there? Are you sure that you’re alright?” she asked.
Kevo shook his head lightly and forced a smile at her.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” he said. “Just a bad dream…kinda. Just keep driving.”
“You’re going to regret this…” said the voice.
As the car approached a petrol station on the right a sharp pain shot through Kevo’s jaw. He screamed and jumped and writhed on the back seat in agony. His mum slammed on the brakes and stopped the car right in the middle of traffic. Reached behind and did her best to calm Kevo down.
“The pain stops when you do what I say,” said the voice in his mouth.
“Over there!” said Kevo pointing at the gas station.
“Honey, what?” said his mum. “I don’t understand!”
“Just go there!” The pain in his tooth came in waves of intense pressure, like something was trying to crush it from the root. “I need to use the bathroom.”
The pain subsided immediately. But the memory of the pain was almost as bad as the real thing and it made Kevo feel like he was going to throw up. He got out of the car when his mum parked and stumbled towards the bathrooms with his head held in his hand.
“Go to the stall at the far end,” said the voice.
“Who the hell are you?” Kevo said as he bundled into the stall.
“They call me The Hand but that doesn’t matter. Reach into the centre of the toilet paper roll.”
Kevo dug his fingers into the cardboard centre, felt something taped to the inside and pulled out a crisp thousand shilling note.
“Now go to the cashier,” said the voice that called itself The Hand.
Kevo shook his head and stood his ground.
“Not going anywhere till I get some answers. What the hell do you want with me?”
“Kevo, I do not have time for your shit. I’ve got my finger on the pain button so do what I say or I’ll press it till you lose control of your bowels.”
Kevo swore and burst out of the stall. The bathroom attendant gave him a dirty look but Kevo didn’t care. He just wanted to get that voice out of his mouth, and that meant doing as he was told. The cashier behind the register leaned back in her chair with a magazine in her hand. Flipped a page and barely acknowledged Kevo when he approached.
“Give me a pack of…Embassy Lights?” said Kevo.
The cashier looked him up and down with one eye. Put the magazine down and crossed her arms on her chest.
“ID?” she said.
Kevo blinked and showed it to her. It was brand new as well. He just got it a couple of weeks ago. The cashier nodded and passed Kevo the pack of cigarettes, broke the thousand shilling note, gave Kevo his change then went back to acting like he wasn’t there. The voice in his mouth instructed him to go round the back to the service entrance where he found a rather large gentleman in a long jacket and thick dreads flowing down from under his hat leaning against the wall.
“You’re The Hand?”said Kevo. “The asshole voice in my head?”
“Yeah,” said The Hand. “Now give me that pack.”
Kevo handed him the pack of cigarettes and frowned.
“That’s it?” he said. “You put me through all this shit just so I could get you a pack of cigs?”
The guy in the jacket ripped open the packet like a hungry animal and pulled one out.
“No other choice,” he said. “I forgot my ID and that cashier was being a stubborn bitch.”
Heat swelled up in Kevo’s chest. The kind of heat formed by uncontrollable rage. His fist came up in a flash and he angled a punch right at The Hand’s jaw. Kevo’s knuckles came in for the connection then went wildly off course when the pain in his tooth returned. Throbbing and intense, Kevo dropped to his knees and clamped his palms to the sides of his face. He cried out in agony like a drowning bird.
The shifty guy took a step away from Kevo then took his finger off the pain button.
“I can understand why you would be upset,” said The Hand. “So how about you keep the change and we call it square?”
He then patted Kevo on the back and took off round the corner. By the time Kevo picked himself back up there was no chance of following. He just dragged himself back to where his mum had parked the car and climbed into the back seat.
“We need to go to a dentist,” he said.
“But we just came from-“
“A different dentist!”