(Only the most ridiculous parts of this story are true. The more toned down bits are bullshit to lessen the drama. Sometimes people find it hard to believe the most unusual stories can be true, instead opting to believe the normal bullshit like fetching coffee on a cold morning, shaving your pubes when you think you’re about to get laid and putting your empty gun in your mouth every night just before bedtime and squeezing the trigger. OK, maybe not everyone does that last one. But because of people’s lack of association with bizarre stories, this true story has to be diluted with customary things so you can believe and relate with it. Or not. Alright, here goes nothing. Oh, and for coarse language, violence, sex and other bad stuff, reader’s discretion is advised.)
Industrial Area Remand Center
Industrial Area – Nairobi
Two years ago
I always hate walking into any prison in a cheap suit and a weathered briefcase like the crooked criminal lawyer that I am, but what choice do I have? Sometimes a man has to be normal because that bread won’t put itself on the table.
There is nothing I like more than a man in a prison uniform. Not the stupid uniforms worn by prison guards but the stripped uniforms and old bathroom slippers that prisoners wear. I like seeing people in those uniforms.
I don’t know why. Maybe I am just damaged. Or maybe the prison population consists of a real majority. People who don’t smile in your face just to prove to you that they are nice. Before we proceed, I will let you know that I am not a nice person. I am quite the asshole and if we meet, there is 98.9% chance that you won’t like me. I did not just make up that number.
It’s about lunchtime when I walk into the prison. There are men lining up for lunch with plastic plates in hand, looking at me but acting like they are not.
A guard directs me to the room where my business of the day will be conducted. I am here to see a man who allegedly raped and killed three women. Normally, I don’t represent rapists. Actually scratch that. I don’t represent rapists, period. But this guy was arraigned in court a week ago and the high court at Milimani decided that hey, he might have (allegedly) raped and killed three women but he’s human. And humans come with these things called rights attached. One of which is the right to fair trial where one accused of a capital offence must have legal representation. If he can’t afford one, one will be appointed for him. Blah blah blah. Y’all watch movies. Y’all know what I’m talking about. I’m the court appointed lawyer for this loser.
If you can’t get it for free (like everyone should) and if you can’t buy it (like every loser out there does), a jar of Vaseline can’t be that hard to come by.
He finds me waiting for him in a small room and I don’t even act like a lawyer. Had I been meeting a respectable criminal like a contract killer or something, I would have adjusted my tie, opened my briefcase and placed files on the table. Heck, I would have worn my newest suit.
But for this (alleged) rapist, I take my jacket and tie off, fold my sleeves to my elbows, unbutton my shirt all the way to my chest, take off my belt and place it on the table along with my feet.
The door opens and the guard in a heavy green sweater tucked into his green pants (I wonder why they do that) and old worn out boots, escorts a dirty young man in.
Me: Hello Atunga
Guard: Hello Jake. You’re representing this cunt?
Me: He’s not a cunt yet.
I am leaning back on my rickety wooden chair, watching the young remandee intently.
Atunga: Do I leave the cuffs on?
His hands are shackled in front of him.
Me: No. Take them off.
Atunga: Did you bring your gun?
Me: I checked it in at the gate. You know that.
Atunga: Then I better leave his cuffs on. Do you want him standing or sitting?
Me: Jesus Christ Atunga. The man is standing right in front of you. (I whisper) He can hear you.
Atunga regards him, his face folding with contempt, then pushes him towards me roughly.
Atunga: I’ll wait outside.
He steps out leaving me with this man, or boy (he can’t be older than 22). He stands in front of me, wearing an I-am-trying-to-figure-you-out look.
Me: What’s your name?
Him: Karangi. But you know that from my file
I do know that from his file but I don’t care. I proceed like he hasn’t spoken
Me: Any relation to the General?
Karangi: Which General?
Me: (Sighs) Alright. Guess I better go on to the core of this conversation.
He shifts from one leg to the other and looks away stubbornly. Like he has better things to do and I am here wasting his time.
Me: Did you rape them?
He stares at the wall, his head bobbing from side to side
Me: Did you rape them?
Karangi: Does it matter?
Karangi: No I did not.
His eyes roam around the room like he’s seeing it for the first time. There are papers glued on that wall; human rights posters, prisoners’ rights posters, bullshit from the Constitution etcetera. Boring shit.
Me: It’s a very interesting wall, isn’t it? (I’m being sarcastic)
Karangi: I don’t think so
He hurriedly shifts his eyes to me as if I have startled him. Curious, I turn to look at the spot that has him so carried away and one poster grabs my attention. It is an anti-FGM poster with a picture of a teenage girl from one of those parts in Northern Kenya where women like walking around with their breasts hanging out.
Me: You raped them.
Karangi: No I did not.
Me: I have been representing the scum of the earth for four years now. Rapists have that look you had on your face when you saw that boobs-out woman in the poster.
Karangi: I didn’t do it.
Me: Here is what’s going to happen. You are going to Milimani and you’re pleading guilty to those rapes and murders.
He regards me. His eyes slit to thin lines across his face right before he smiles. I see it. The look he had on his face as he choked those women to death.
Karangi: Or what?
Me: Or I’ll make sure you die very slowly in Kamiti when they send you there. And they will send you there.
Karangi: I’ll already die very slowly in Kamiti or whichever prison they send me to.
Me: Do you know what they do to rapists in prison?
Karangi: Is this where you threaten me with sodomy?
Me: Yes. (I rub my hands together excitedly, pull my feet off the table and grin. Finally I am having fun) Yes! This is where I threaten you with sodomy.
Karangi: Alright. Let’s hear it.
Me: If you don’t plead guilty, I will make sure they pull every tooth off your mouth so you can wake up with a dick in your mouth every morning and a metal bar up your ass. Now some people do get used to and actually starting enjoying a dick up their ass in prison, but I am yet to meet anyone who enjoys a metal bar. They will connect car batteries to your balls and fry them, they will cut bits and pieces of your dick until you’re dickless and just when you think you can’t suffer anymore humiliation, just when you start getting used to begging for death, they will hammer nails into a hockey stick and shove it up your ass. But they will not kill you until you are fifty years old in a wheelchair with a broken spine, ruptured anus, burst eardrums, broken fingers, toothless, collapsed lung, missing kidney, crushed and burned testicles and best of all, a broken spirit.
He is watching me, waiting to see a speck of bullshit in my eyes.
Karangi: I have asked about you in here
Me: What did they say?
Karangi: That you are crazy
Me: I wish you had just killed them. I mean, I know women. I know they can drive a guy crazy. Heck, I have been tempted to choke one or two to death myself. But did you have to go and rape them?
Karangi: Couldn’t help it.
Me: Plead guilty. They will still fuck you in the ass at Kamiti, but at least you’ll die before you’re thirty.
I am on my feet putting my jacket on and stashing my tie into my pocket.
Karangi: Leave me the belt
Me: You have my permission to kill yourself. But I won’t let you do it with my belt you cunt.
Two Years Ago
South B – Nairobi
Wetness Bar is a place where you go when you want to sit on a leather couch in a private booth listening to soft blues in semi darkness with a beer in one hand, a joint in the other, a line of cocaine in front of you and a naked woman grinding her ass on your junk. Well, at least that’s what I am doing right now.
Her: Does that feel good?
Me: Does what feel good?
She stands up, faces me and leans closer, her breasts coming within inches of my face. I take a drag and blow the marijuana smoke in her face. She straddles my laps, takes my joint in her slim fingers, places it on her lips and takes a deep drag
Her: The lap dance
Me: What’s to like?
She turns away and blows a cloud around her face then hands the joint back to me.
Her: You are a bit of an asshole, aren’t you?
Me: Aren’t we all?
She places both hands on my shoulders and grinds. Back and forth, back and forth she goes. Then she licks my earlobe and takes it wholly in her mouth.
Me: I am not paying you extra for that shit.
Her: Shut up.
Me: Get off me
She looks at me like she can’t believe her ears
Me: Get off me. Your vagina is on my pants and now I’ll have to burn them.
With a pained look in her eyes, she slowly slides off and sticks her hand out. I place a thousand bob in it and small creases form on her forehead. She is surprised. She looks so young. Not older than twenty. Then she turns around and leaves only to stride back in five seconds later. Her steps are small and passionate like she’s angry and her boobs move up and down as she catwalks majestically in her heels.
Her: Who hurt you?
Me: Have you looked in a mirror lately darling? You rub your vagina on strangers’ pants for money. Who hurt you?
Her: Fuck you!
Me: So said every unimaginative cunt in the long sad history of unimaginative cunts.
Matthews, Kamanja and Moore Advocates
Fourth Ngong Avenue
Upper Hill – Nairobi
Six years ago
Last year, I sat for my bar exam and nobody was more surprised than me when I passed all units in one attempt. Let that not be cited as evidence to my genius. I am just a dumb guy who got lucky. After sitting for the exam, the Council for Legal Education requires that one goes through a sadistic punitive process called pupilage before being admitted to the bar.
I am at Matthews, Kamanja and Moore (MKM) for my interview with about seventeen other unlucky individuals whose only fault was being interested in practicing law in this unfortunate republic called Kenya. Let justice be our shield and defender! Halle-fucking-lujah!
You should see us all in our suits. The very ones we wore in university when we were pursuing our undergrad degree in law. They are old and faded and two sizes bigger, but what are you going to do? At this point, we’re too old to ask for money from our parents so we suffer together in common humiliation of walking from office to office in our old suits and CVs in envelops just so we could be used by advocates for months.
When it’s finally my turn, I walk into the well furnished and intimidating boardroom where my sole interviewer sits. There is a large conference table with glass water jars and glasses lying idle, a large flat screen TV beside the chalkboard at the front and swivel seats all around.
Her: Sit down
Back in the days when I was addicted to porn, I used to come across “MILF” on my way to “ebony”. She is your quintessential MILF. 40s, in designer glasses, expensive skirt suit, Brazilian weave, she doesn’t want to look common. Or old for that matter.
Her: I am Asha.
She waves me to a seat across the table from her and breathing through my mouth because my nose is suddenly too small for all the air I need to get out, I take the very seat she’s pointed me to and place my hands under the table so she can’t see exactly how badly they are shaking.
Her: You look nervous
Me: I am nervous
Her: Is it me?
Me: Among other things
Her: Tell me about them
Me: Excuse me?
Her: Those other things that make you nervous. Tell me about them.
Me: Um (I clear my throat) OK. There is a lady out there. I think you’ll be interviewing her after me. She drove in in a Range Rover Evoque and judging by the way she speaks English; I think she got her degree from Oxford.
Her: And you think we’ll hire her?
Me: The thought has crossed my mind
Her: Why? Because she drives a Range and speaks English through the nose?
Me: Her nails were manicured, her suit is very elegant but most importantly, she went through the Civil Procedure Act like it’s a love note she has written to her lover.
Her: (Chuckles) Look at me.
I look at her. She has small eyes and round bulbous lips that I find myself reprimanding myself for thinking of kissing her.
Her: What do you think of people who drive big cars, wear expensive designer clothes and real gold around their necks and have degrees from universities in Europe?
Me: I bought my suit in Eastleigh, I boarded a matatu here and my degree is from Kenyatta University. I find those people intimidating. In a pecuniary sense at least.
Her: Do you think they stand a better chance at scoring a pupilage position at this firm?
Me: Like I said, the thought did cross my mind.
Her: Do you think people at this firm are shallow?
Her: Then why do you think we’d be attracted to people because of the weight of their wallets and their impeccable sense of grooming?
She has me. She looks very serious right now, her eyes don’t have a hint of a smile in them and she has both hands on the table, rubbing them gently, waiting to see how I’ll get myself out of this one.
Me: I’ll amend my answer. I think human beings are shallow in general. That is why we like beautiful women, flashy cars, muscled men, sharp clothes and other things that are pleasing to the eye. It is human nature.
Her: So you think we’re shallow at this firm?
Me: Yes. But I don’t think you let that influence your decision making.
Her: We are shallow but we will avoid being shallow when employing people?
She chuckles and for the first time glances down at my file.
Her: What’s your name?
She is looking right at my CV. It has my name right there in bold.
Me: Jacob Njau
Her: (Not looking up at me) Says here you graduated from university with a second class upper division and you have already passed the bar exam. You have worked with Transparency International, Kenya National Commission of Human Rights and Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice. Congratulations. (Looks up at me, closes the file and tosses it aside) I wish that was enough to get you a pupilage position at this firm.
Me: I am impressive on paper. I understand how that might not be adequate
Her: You do, huh?
Me: Well, it doesn’t show how I am under pressure; it doesn’t prove if I can deliver within strict deadlines under…
Her: If you say minimal supervision I’ll shoot myself in the head. (I swallow hard.) Have you ever killed anybody?
Me: Me? No!
Her: Would you kill?
Me: I can’t know until I know.
Her: Slept with someone’s wife?
Me: Not that I know of.
Her: Slept with someone’s husband?
Me: I don’t play for that team
Her: How do you feel about people who play for that team?
Me: What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve about.
Her: Slept with anyone’s girlfriend?
Her: Would you do it again?
Her: From your file, I see your dissertation was about gun ownership.
Her: Tell me about it.
Me: I want people to be allowed to own guns
Her: I read it. Your dissertation. You called police officers in Kenya criminals
Me: I did
Her: Keep going
Me: They kill people for nothing.
Her: You’d rather they were killed for something instead?
Me: Some people deserve a bullet. It’s a shame we have a lazy death penalty in Kenya
Her: What should happen to Kenyan police officers who kill criminals?
Me: Should these criminals kill them first, it’s fair game. See, here is how killing works in my humble opinion. A criminal kills a bank teller while robbing the joint. A cop kills the criminal instead of arresting him. This criminal’s friend kills the cop. This cop’s friend kills the criminal. And so on and so forth.
Her: So where do you draw the line?
Me: You don’t.
Her: Where does the killing stop?
Me: When everybody is dead. Way I see it, the world is a terrible place whether I have a gun or not. So I might as well have a gun. In the end, we all die, sometimes violently whether we have guns or not. When the day dawns and I find myself on the wrong end of a gun, I want to die fighting not on my knees begging for my life.
Her: Can I ask you something?
Me: I feel like we’re way past the can-I-ask-you-something part.
Her: You are right. Do you want this job?
Me: I do. But I have the distinct feeling that I won’t be getting it.
Her: You are hired. Tell everyone else out there to go home. I would tell you congratulations, but I am not sure I want to insult your intelligence like that.
Me: When do I start?
Her: On Monday. Let’s meet at CID headquarters along Kiambu Road at eight o’clock. We’ll need to get you registered for a gun.
Her: In this firm, we like putting our money where our mouths are.
Two Years Ago
South B – Nairobi
I have a matter coming up for hearing first thing tomorrow morning and it is time for me to go home. So I finish my last beer (it’s been my last beer for two hours now), put on my jacket and start heading out. I walk through the near empty dance floor (it is a Tuesday night and most people don’t start coming to the bar until Thursday) that is lit with overhanging faded blue lights and as I head to the gents so I can relieve myself before I leave, I hear somebody (a woman’s) saying;
Somebody: That’s him
I ignore it. It can be anybody. Besides, I’m really pressed. Next thing I know, somebody has grabbed my shoulder, turned me around and punched me hard in the mouth. I stagger back and crash hard on the floor, dazed.
I feel myself getting lifted to my feet and a sledgehammer of a fist lands on my stomach driving me to my knees.
The somebody that said “that’s him” is the stripper from earlier. The huge guy beating me must be somebody with a crush on her. He lifts a huge fist to bring it down to my jaw but I put my hands up.
Me: Wait! Wait! Wait!
Him: For what?
Me: I like to think I’m pretty good looking. What say you you punch me in the ribs and leave my face alone, huh?
He brings the fist down on my face anyway and I land heavily on my back, seeing double. I try to rise up but my head is spinning so I crash back and stare at the roof. I hear his footfalls as he walks away asking the stripper;
Him: You good?
Her: Yeah Johnny. Thanks.
I run my tongue around my mouth and collect all that hot stuff in there that tastes like iron – I have had blood in my mouth before so I know how it tastes – and spit it out. Then I struggle to my feet, stagger and support myself on a nearby table.
Me: Hey Johnny?
He stops in his trucks and looks at me over his shoulder, trying to look like Vin Diesel but looking pretty pathetic instead.
Me: I fucked your mama up the ass last night. She didn’t like it so she punched me in the face. (I spit again) I have to say Johnny, your mama hits harder than you do.
Him: I will kill you.
He is a tall, broad shouldered guy with a chest that stretches from here to Nicaragua. He slaps me in the chest making me cough as he grabs me by the shirt with one hand and smashes my nose in with his fist. I feel my head swing back with the force of the punch and my face goes completely numb.
He hits me again and again as my hands remain limp by my side. At some point, I hear something break like a twig. Or a bone. It is the sound my nose always makes when it breaks. I can’t stay on my feet any longer. The only reason I am standing is because he is holding me up.
Him: Have you had enough?
I am seeing two of him and there is hot fluid pouring down my face. I spit a mouthful of blood and start laughing. At first it is a smile which graduates to a cackle and then full blown laughter.
Me: Hey Johnny?
Him: You are crazy.
Me: In case you ever walk into your mama changing and you find her in adult diapers, don’t ask her what happened.
He drags me across the bar to the wall where he smashes my head into the concrete and it is all dark from there.
Wilson View Apartments
Lang’ata – Nairobi
Two Years Ago
Ndung’u is my hold-my-brief guy. My first call to him goes unanswered so I try again and he picks on the third ring.
Him: You sound like shit. I take it you’re hangover
Me: You’re a genius. What took you so long to come to the phone?
Him: Morning glory
Me: Lucky bastard. Maybe I should get married too. Oh wait. I’m kidding. Marriage is for pussies.
Him: Get married first. Then we’ll revisit that pussies remark. How are you doing? Bad I think?
Him: Women troubles?
Me: A distinct lack thereof.
Him: Still on a greased rail to self destruction I see.
Me: Only way to live.
Him: Didn’t you have a girlfriend?
Me: I did.
Him: What happened?
Me: Her husband happened.
Him: I thought you don’t sleep with people’s wives.
Me: Every rule has an exception. Jesus, didn’t you learn anything in law school?
Him: What can I do for you Jake?
Me: Hold my brief
Him: What’s the matter?
Me: Just a multiple robberies and murders thing I have coming up for hearing before Judge Awino.
Him: Just a multiple robberies and murders thing, huh? Just a normal day at the office? Do you have something against normal stuff? Like commercial law and shit?
Me: What’s life without a little excitement? I’d rather die of a bullet than bleed slowly of paper cuts.
Him: I don’t even know why we’re friends.
Me: You graduated with a first class honors, married the girl to whom you lost your virginity, you don’t smoke, you don’t drink, you don’t fuck around and you go to church every Sunday. Trust me dude, you need a friend like me.
Him: Is everything OK? You really do sound like shit.
Me: My nose is broken. I can’t breathe properly. I think I have a collapsed lung. My eyes are swollen shut, I have a loose molar and I think my lips are tattered.
Him: Car accident?
Him: With a professional boxer?
Me: Nothing so exciting. Weightlifter.
Him: Did you go to the hospital?
Me: Why? Because of a small fight? You sound like you don’t know me.
Him: This has to stop Jake.
Me: Hold my motherfucking brief please, OK? Let’s let my mama do the lecturing.
Two Years Ago
South B – Nairobi
I am in my usual booth with my usual bottle of beer and weed in my hands and naked woman grinding on my laps.
Me: When does Myra come in?
Her: From around eight.
Me: Tell me when you see her?
Her: Why? Isn’t my body womanly enough for you?
Me: Girl, I have socks in my drawers that are older than you.
Her: You think? I think I have pubes on my crotch that are older than you.
Me: Don’t kid yourself. I have one of those faces.
She is facing me, grinding slowly in rhythm with the music. She runs her hand down my chest as I take a drag of the joint and follow it up with a sip of my beer straight from the bottle.
Her: What does Myra have that I don’t?
She leans back; all the way back. She has apple size breasts so when she leans back like that as she dances on my lap; it looks like she doesn’t have breasts at all. Then she pulls herself up and her hair falls all over her face.
Me: Where are you from?
Me: Somalia, huh? And of all the laps you could have danced on in every joint between Mogadishu and South B, you danced on mine.
Her: I heard you’re a heavy tipper.
She brushes the hair off her face and leans in as if to hug me. Her warm lips find my neck and she starts working her way down.
Me: Myra owes me a debt I am not certain you can pay.
She looks at me, her face leaning on one side so that her long hair can fall over one ear.
Her: Try me. I’ll let you take me home with you and do anything you like.
Her: You look like a man with a fertile imagination. I am certain it would be quite the ride.
Me: (I chuckle) Oh darling, you have no idea.
Her: So what does she do that you think I can’t?
I smile at her so generously that she smiles back. She has a baby face and when she smiles, she exposes small teeth with gaps between them. I lean close to her such that our noses touch then I whisper loud enough for her to hear me.
Me: Well, I want to beat her. Then I want to take her home with me, tie her up in the bathroom, call her boyfriend to come rescue her, then beat him to death.
She chuckles then throws her head back laughing heartily.
Her: You are kidding
Me: In the very way that a heart attack kids I guess.
Her: What did she do to you?
Me: A week ago, she got my ass handed to me.
She squeezes her lips together like she’s kissing the air and frowns. It is a very cute pout.
Her: Aww. I’m sorry.
Me: It’s alright. I believe in a life for an eye so balance will be restored in the universe shortly.
Myra is dancing around a pole on the dance floor happily. She is really putting her back into it tonight. Other than her long leather boots that go all the way to her thighs, she is wearing nothing. She climbs the pole, wraps one leg around it and hangs from it upside down, then slides down slowly, supports herself with both hands to prevent her from crashing head first on the concrete, stands upside down on her hands for a few seconds, her hair falling on the floor and her generous bosom resting on her chin, then does a half somersault and stands on her feet. I guess being a stripper is a talent too.
Later, she leaves the floor to another dancer and I pull her to my booth.
Her: You again.
Me: Me again.
Her: Do you want me to call Johnny on you?
Me: Yes please
Her: He’ll kick your ass
Me: Yes he will. And then I will kill him. (I tickle her cheek with one finger like she’s a toddler with a smile) And then I’ll kill you sweetheart.
She slaps my hand away.
Her: Don’t touch me.
My gun is resting at my back, parallel to my spine. I take it out and point it at her stomach. The shiny metal gleams in the dim light in the booth.
Me: I could shoot you right now and nothing would happen to me. So please, summon your monkey for me.
As she walks out, I grab her elbow and turn her around roughly
Me: What did I do to you anyway?
Her: (She looks very surprised) What did you do?
Me: Yeah. To deserve what you and your dog did to me.
Her: You were an asshole to me. You hurt my feelings
Me: You are a whore. You don’t have feelings. Hello!
Her: (Nodding furiously) Fuck you!
Johnny finds me smoking a cigarette in the small alleyway behind the club. There are hookers standing at one corner a few meters away and in a nearby thicket, someone who couldn’t afford a room is having a cheap lay.
I see Johnny in a small t-shirt through which his muscles burst and I crush my cigarette out on the sole of my shoe.
Him: So, I hear you are looking for me.
Him: (Sticking out his arms beside him) Here I am.
Myra is standing behind him, watching with eyes wide open to see how this will unfold.
Me: I want you to do me a favor Johnny. You know, seeing as how you kicked my face in the other night for nothing.
Him: I am a protective guy. I don’t like it when people are assholes to my woman.
Me: Fair enough. But along the corridors of justice we have a saying. Culpae poenae par esto. Do you know what that means Johnny?
Him: Can we please skip to the part where you attempt to hit me and I kick your face in again? (He chuckles and turns to his girlfriend for approval. She smiles nervously but doesn’t take her eyes off me)
Me: Let the punishment fit the crime. See, I was rude to your lady. I am sorry. But you broke my bones for that. Does that punishment appear to fit the crime for which, as I said, I am apologetic?
Him: What do you want?
Me: An apology and two incisors
Him: Yeah? You insulted my mother too
Me: People insult mothers all the time.
Him: Well, if you want my apology and teeth, you’ll just have to come and get them.
Me: Are you sure you want that?
He chuckles and looks me up and down. I don’t like clichés so I won’t even mention David and Goliath here.
Him: If you can take two teeth out of my mouth, heck, I’ll let you take six. But if you fail, I will take all the teeth in your mouth. Deal?
I take out my gun as he advances on me and he only sees it when it’s too late. I shoot him in one knee and as he falls screaming and clutching it, blood flowing through his fingers, I place a well aimed kick to his nose and I feel it flattening against his face.
He straightens out groaning as I sit on his chest and start pounding his face in with the gun.
Johnny’s face is turning red as he starts to make these choking sounds. Choking on blood and teeth. I smash and smash
She tries to pull me away from him but I get on my feet and stomp his face in with my foot.
Myra: He’s sorry!
Me: Shut up!
I kick Johnny in the ribs again and again.
He coughs and spits out blood and a tooth. I kick him again and again.
Myra: He’s sorry, OK? He’s sorry!
Me: Beg for his life!
I sit on his chest again and this time brings the gun butt hard on his lips aiming to break his front teeth.
Me: Beg for his life whore!
I smash and smash as she tries to peel me away crying;
Myra: He’s sorry! He’s sorry! Please forgive him!
The hookers in the corner are used to trouble. When they see what’s happening, they walk away one by one because the last thing a hooker wants is to be there when the cops show up. When you roam the streets at night, you don’t want a scenario where you can be fingered as a witness to anything that happens at night. What happens at night belongs in the night.
Me: I don’t hear you begging Myra! Let’s hear it! Scream your love for him from the mountaintops! (Wham! Wham!) Scream Myra! Scream!
She screams and cries and begs as I drag Johnny’s half conscious body from one end of the alleyway to the other kicking him. At some point, I make him lie on his stomach and twist his arm all the way above his head until his shoulder dislocates loudly.
Me: Beg bitch! Beg! Or I swear to whatever the hell created this wretched place we call the earth, I will murder him while you watch!
I point the gun to his head. I am now panting heavily and Myra is on her knees in prayer position.
Myra: Please. Please.
Me: You got him into this shit.
Myra: I am sorry.
Me: Did it turn you on? To see him beat the shit out of me? Did you give him a hard romp that night as you eroticized his power? (She hesitates) Well did you? Did you?!
Her: Yes! Yes! Yes I did!
Me: I bet it was the best shag of your life. Owning the man who had just come from almost killing a man with his bare hands huh?
Her: You are a sick fuck!
Me: I know! (I burst out laughing) I don’t know much, but I know that! And now, so do you.
Her: I got him into this. Please punish me. Leave him alone.
Me: Most people are fortunate enough to spend their entire lives in this world without ever bumping into the devil. You my darling aren’t one of them.
I stand up and view what’s left of Johnny. It is hard to see his face beneath the thick layer of blood and cuts. I part his lips and sigh satisfactorily. There are several teeth missing in there. Some are on the ground beside him. Others I think he has swallowed.
Me: (To Myra) I own you now. If you try to skip town, I will hunt you down. (I squat beside her and hold her chin in my bloody hand forcing her to look at me.) I am that one dog you don’t want hunting you. The police will arrest me, but they’ll let me go. They always do. And when they do, you will come to me. I will ask you to bark and you will get down on all fours, say ‘yes master’ ask ‘how loudly?’ and get to it. Do you understand?
Me: Do I have to threaten you, or should I just kill you right now and be done with it?
I fish my gun out and press it on her forehead. She is whimpering and sobbing. I press on gently like a priest offering Holy Communion.
Me: Just say the words and it’ll be done.
Myra: You own me.
Me: You’re damn right.
I place the gun back to my waist, wipe my hands clean off Johnny’s blood, pocket them and walk away, whistling Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” softly.
Lang’ata Police Station
Lang’ata – Nairobi
Two Years Ago
OCS: Njau, causing grievous bodily harm? Really?
Me: If you are going to do something, just do it all the way. Right?
OCS: Don’t play cute with me. You’re lucky we aren’t pushing for attempted murder.
We are in his office where I am seated on a rickety wooden chair (sometimes I think the government ran out of good chairs right about when dinosaurs went extinct) with my hands cuffed in front of me. I am in one shoe having left the other together with my wallet and belt at the reporting desk when I was booked in.
Me: What’s happening here chief? (I thrust my cuffed hands out in front of me) Can I get the lecture without the bracelets please?
OCS: And why is that?
He tosses my file carelessly on his desk and sinks into his own rickety chair resignedly. Like he’d rather be anywhere else but here.
Me: I have a matter in three hours.
OCS: Well, you’re just going to have to get somebody to hold your brief.
Me: Oh no. I have had this case delayed for two years now. The judge will throw it out and I happen to believe that my client is innocent.
OCS: Since when did you start representing innocent people?
Me: The cops killed his nine year old son. So he went and killed the cop. And now you want him convicted for murder?
OCS: Cop killer huh?
I lean forward and look him in the eye, my handcuffs crinkling with every move I make.
Me: Those weren’t cops.
OCS: Are we really going to get into that discussion now? The morality of it all?
Me: (I present to him my cuffed hands) Looks like I have the time.
OCS: This is getting old Njau
Me: Is it though?
OCS: Yes. The man you clobbered half to death is in the ICU
Me: And who’s to say I did it?
Me: Corroborating evidence?
OCS: Nobody else has come forward yet but…
Me: Then please unshackle me so I can go be an officer of the court.
OCS: We all know you did it. And where the hell is his girlfriend?
Me: His what? (I thrust my hands out again and shake them in front of him.) Get me the fuck out of these things man. I am beginning to feel a little unwelcome in your office in them.
He gives me a hard stare before digging into his pockets for the keys. Finally, he selects one and sighs as he leans forward to relieve me off the cuffs. I rub my wrists, now bruised by the shackles and get on my feet.
OCS: One day we will fetch you out of a ditch with ten bullets in your body and a hundred broken bones.
Me: And when that day dawns, both angels and demons will raid evidence rooms and stuff as much cocaine into their noses as possible. And hold orgies with virgins. It’ll be hallelujah all around. Until then, toddle-oo.
OCS: Get out of my office.
I head all the way to the door and then turn around.
Me: Be nice to me.
He gives me another hard stare then his face suddenly softens with a huge grin plastered all over it.
OCS: You have some news for me?
Me: Remember a time when an armory at a police station in Lamu was raided by apparent terrorists?
OCS: (Leans forward his face full of hope) Have you found the guns?
Me: Al-Dalai House in Eastleigh. Apartment 702.
OCS: Oh man! You are a godsend!
Me: Remember that next time you haul me into your office like a slave.
I head out again then stick my head back in.
Me: Oh. And that haul of cocaine your boys grabbed in Mombasa, there were twelve kilos missing. You will find them at the Kamukunji police residence. Block B. House number 316. Hey?
OCS: (His voice quavering. Nobody likes busting cops.) Yeah
Me: Save me a kilo.
Me: Save me a kilo of cocaine; for the greater good. Or I will start getting real stingy with intel.
OCS: Who gave birth to you?
Me: A woman who had no business being fertile. Isn’t this where you’re supposed to grin, grovel, place your lips on my ass and say thanks?
OCS: Get the fuck out of here.
Me: Uh, yes. I have to go be an officer of the court.
Milimani Law Courts
Community – Nairobi
Room 303 – Judge Awino’s Chambers
Two Years Ago
Judge: You look like shit
Me: Take a look at your shit often judge?
Judge: Sit down.
Her voice is a crack. Like a whip across my back. I wince and rest easily into the seat she has just pointed me to. Hers is one of those executive modern offices, richly furnished, pictures of Uhuru Kenyatta and Jesus Christ on the wall, a huge Kenyan flag on a mast, thick red carpet to remind the judicial officers of their power, etcetera.
Judge: Heard from the OCS
Me: Did he tell you of the information I handed him free of charge?
Judge: What do you want from us Njau? It’s like you have the whole criminal justice system in your pocket.
Me: It’s like?
Judge: Do you know how it ends for people like you?
Me: With ten bullets in my body and a hundred broken bones. I have heard this tiring tale before judge. Now, why is my lowlife ass warming your chair?
Judge: I knew your mother, you know?
Me: So you keep saying.
Judge: We went to law school together.
Me: Couldn’t stop her getting pregnant, could you?
Judge: Njau please!
Me: What? Y’all weren’t close enough friends to get her to get an abortion?
I push my chair back so hard that it crushes with a soft thud on the carpet and lean over the table close to her, so our faces almost touch.
Me: Nancy, the next time you get me in here for a dose of sentiment, better make it real good.
Judge: What’s your problem?
Me: You don’t see it, do you?
Judge: I don’t see what?
Me: I was born. That’s what my problem is. Of all the sperms that could have made it to that egg, a billion of them, I won that race. And for what? I am addicted to alcohol, pussy and cocaine, I can’t live in a world without violence and I can’t find sleep at night without trying to kill myself first. You want to help? Get someone to put those ten bullets in my body already. Otherwise take antidepressants like everyone else.
I leave her shaking like a leaf in her chair.
Ngong’ Target Range
Six Years Ago
With my ear plugs safely in place to keep out the sound of gunshots, I point the heavy gun at the target in front of me and squeeze the trigger. Asha is standing behind me; her hands on my waist, her face on my neck, her warm breath sending chills everywhere in my body.
I fire eight rounds into the target and don’t even once come close to hitting the face or chest. Eight bullets. Not one fatal shot. Not even a lucky one.
Asha: You are a lousy shot.
Me: I am sorry.
Asha: Don’t apologize to me. Apologies are for pussies. Are you a pussy Jacob?
Me: No. (I can’t maintain eye contact with her.)
Asha: I know the gun feels heavy in your hands but you’ll get used to that in time. Just breathe. Take it easy and think of the gun as a part of you. There is no difference between that gun and your dick. All you have to do is point it in the right direction and shoot. You do know how to use your dick, right?
Me: I have an idea.
Asha: Then you should have no problem using the gun.
She takes it off my hands, ejects the magazine, loads it up, corks it and hands it back to me. My hands are shaking gently. I point the gun at the target, the gun intensifying my shaking. Asha places her hand on my shoulder and whispers in my ear
Asha: Shh. Shh. It is just like a dick.
Her hand finds its way into my pants and I stiffen.
Asha: Focus. It is just like a shag. You get things going by focusing on yourself and the other person. Same way with a gun. You focus on yourself and the person standing in front of you.
She squeezes gently and her hand feels warm down there. She whispers hoarsely in my ear.
Asha: Now, let’s see how good you are in bed.
The target appears closer now. I breathe. I block everything else out. Other than the gun in my hands, the fact that I am breathing and the target in front of me. I squeeze the trigger gently and the paper target’s face rips.
Asha: Good. That’s good. Now keep going.
Matthews, Kamanja and Moore Advocates
Fourth Ngong Avenue
Upper Hill – Nairobi
Six years ago
We are in her Mercedes Benz M16 at the parking lot in the basement where we have just driven in from the target range. I want to open the door as soon as the car stops because we have a matter coming up for hearing at eleven o’clock at Kibera Law Courts but she holds my hand. I look at her. She is breathing through her mouth.
Asha: The case can wait.
She grabs me by my collar and pulls me closer. When her lips touch mine, I close my eyes and let myself be engulfed by her perfume, her warm touch, her soft lips and the fact that she is not mine to have. She opens my belt noisily, dips her hand in and takes my junk out.
Asha: You and me, we’re going to have so much fun.
Two Years Ago
South B – Nairobi
I take the sachet out of my jacket pocket and pour a small lump of cocaine on the glass table in front of me in the booth. Using a razor blade, I divide the white powder into three long and thick lines, take out a crisp two hundred shillings note from my wallet, fold it into a pipe and hold it in my fingers.
The curtains part as Myra walks in with four bottles of beer and a bottle of Jameson Whiskey. She stops in her tracks gasping as her eyes rest on the lines.
Myra: What are you doing?
Me: Preparing to sniff cocaine. You?
Myra: You shouldn’t do that.
I bend closer to my lines, one end of the folded note on the table and the other end in my nose.
Me: Yes mother.
I block one side of my nose, place the note at the edge of a line and inhale it all noisily. I throw my head back, the rush dazing me and look at the ceiling laughing.
Me: That is the worst cocaine I have ever sniffed my entire life.
She places the liquor bottles on the table and sits on the couch, an entire meter away from me.
Me: I won’t bite. Come closer
Her: Do I have to?
Me: Yes you do.
I place the folded note beside the two lines left and take a fresh joint from my coat.
Me: Want a joint?
Me: I thought girls just want to have fun.
Her: We can’t all be Cindy Lauper
Me: That’s unfortunate.
I light up the weed, take a generous drag and exhale a long line of smoke into the air. Then I bend over and sniff in the second line.
Her: You know if you keep going on like this you don’t have much time left, right?
Me: That’s what they keep telling me. (I push one bottle of beer towards her) At least have a beer OK? It’s depressing to drink alone.
She edges closer, opens one bottle for me and the other one for her. I roll the bottle around in my fingers on the table and let myself sink into the drugs.
Me: You ever wonder what your point in living is?
Her: Don’t we all?
Me: Me more than others I’m afraid.
Her: Is that why you do what you do? To never let yourself be left alone with your thoughts?
I lean forward and sniff the last line then throw my head back rubbing my teeth with my finger vigorously. I sniff and sniff and take a swig of the beer.
Me: What’s the point?
Her: Of what?
Me: Of living, Myra. Of living. I mean, we are all here in this fucked up place, we wake up, dress up, show up at places for work or school in preparation for work, work and work and work just so we can buy food, pay bills, buy a car and a house, get a partner, make babies so they can do just what we have been doing for years, then die. What’s the fucking point?
Her: Ain’t that the point? To live?
Me: The point of living is living? What the fuck Myra? Don’t you feel like a hamster in a spinning wheel? You run and run and run and never get anywhere. What’s the point? We are all just hamsters in a spinning wheel all for the entertainment of the Man in the Sky. What is the point?
Her: You may be right. The point isn’t the destination but the journey.
Me: What journey? I wake up, I go to work, I win cases, I hang out with criminals, I beat people, I get beaten, I get high, I fuck, I go home, I sleep and I wake up the next morning to do it all over again. For what?
Her: Then kill yourself already. Stop depressing me with your shit.
Her: What do you want from me? A shoulder to cry on? I am not your mother.
Me: What do I want from you? Get out there on the pole and dance for me.
She rushes out of the booth like she couldn’t do it fast enough and I follow her out, leaving the liquor in there. I tell the bouncer to keep an eye out on everything for me and watch Myra as she does her magic.
She makes heads turn as she walks gracefully around the pole, climbs it, hangs upside down, goes round and round, does her somersaults on the floor, gets on all fours and twerks.
Drunks whistle and clap and watch and throw money at her. One of them shouts above them all;
Drunk: I am going to touch her boob
His colleagues cheer him on and he staggers towards where Myra is dancing naked. I head for him, tap him on the shoulder and mumble in his ear;
Me: You can touch her, but I’ll have to break your hand after.
One of his colleagues yells over at him;
Colleague: What’s he telling you?
Drunk: That he’ll break my hand if I touch the stripper
Colleague: Ah! Go ahead and touch her. He can’t do anything to you.
He smiles at them. His cheerleaders. And energized by their support, he shoves me aside gently – in an I-have-no-issue-with-you-boss kind of way – and climbs on the dance floor in front of Myra. He fishes out a five hundred shillings note and presses it into her chest. She smiles at him as his hand sticks out and squeezes her breast.
His colleagues clap and cheer and Myra politely takes his hand away from her body. He says something to her and she says something back. That aggravates him so he spanks her and she slaps him. He slaps her back and one of the bouncers carries him out of the club. His colleagues follow him out noisily.
As I head out of the club after them, Myra runs after me, grabs my elbow, turns me around screaming;
Myra: Jake! Jake! Don’t be stupid
Me: Honey, (I call out politely and cup her cheeks in my hand) I am anything but smart. (I squeeze her cheek gently and head out)
Myra: (Calling after me) They are ten and it is just you. What are you going to do? Shoot them all?
Me: I left my gun at the police station.
Myra: They are going to kill you!
Me: Don’t be dramatic. And let’s not pretend like that ain’t exactly what you want.
Myra: Fuck you Jacob!
Me: You really need to work on your insults. They might kill me, but that won’t happen until his hand is broken in at least three places.
Outside the club, the boys are laughing and congratulating the drunk who touched Myra. Like he’s the king or something. It is a dimly lit alleyway and the usual hookers are standing outside at their usual corner.
They don’t hear me.
They turn around and one of them says;
One of them: Oh look! It’s the whore’s boyfriend. He’s come to break your hand.
They all look at me. It is a cold evening and when we breathe, clouds form at our faces.
Me: I have no quarrel with anyone but him. (I point at the guy who touched her.) I just want to break his hand. That’s all.
His colleague from earlier smiles.
Colleague: Oh you just want to break his hand, huh? Just that?
Me: Yes please.
Colleague: (Looks at his friends) Oh he’s such a gentleman. He even says please.
Me: Without a little courtesy there is no difference between us and animals.
Colleague: Well, since you asked so nicely, yeah sure. You may break his hand.
I look at the drunk who touched her.
Me: Sir, please step forward so that I can break your arm.
Drunk: Fuck you.
Me: Please sir.
Drunk: You know what; fuck you and your mother too.
They all laugh. There are metal bars beside the dumpster. I pick up two of them and hold them fast in my hands.
Me: If this was a movie, I would tell you ‘we can do this the hard way or the easy way. You choose.’
Drunk: And now?
Me: Well, now I’ll just have to break both hands. And a leg for good measure. Because I respect women like that.
Myra stands behind me and taps my shoulder.
Myra: You are not doing this for me.
Me: I know. I am just looking for an excuse to kick some ass. You are a whore. You think I give a shit who touches you? Now stand the fuck back.
The guys are looking at each other as if trying to decipher if I’m being serious. And if so, whether I am that crazy. I run for them screaming, jump in the air and come landing with my metal bar crashing into the nearest guy’s shoulder. He yells and drops on the ground as the bone on the shoulder caves in noisily.
I whirl the metal bars, crashing faces and hands and then come face to face with the drunk. I aim a kick at his groin as somebody kicks me in the back propelling me forward. I stagger a step, regain balance and turn around.
I get punched in the face as I reach out for the drunk, bring him close and break his nose with my forehead. I kick a face or two, grab the drunk’s arm as he tries to stop the blood flow from his nose, twist it hard and drive my knee into his elbow. Every other sound drowns out except the sound of his breaking arm followed shortly by his earth shaking scream.
Myra is screaming;
Myra: STOP! Oh my God, stop!
I sweep someone off their feet with my foot, drive a metal bar into somebody’s ribs, take a kick in the stomach and crush on the ground, roll, get up and place a roundhouse kick into somebody’s chest.
They force a semi circle in front of me, bleeding from various places and panting pathetically. Several of them are groaning and writhing on the ground, my drunken target among them.
Me: You boys tired or do we tango all night?
Colleague: You have already broken his arm. Now go.
Me: But he resisted and now my feelings are hurt. (There is a childish whine in my voice.) Now I want to break his other hand and his leg. Please pretty please. Can I please break them? (My voice gets serious) Or do I have to kill one of you first?
Myra: Jake please stop.
Two bouncers are standing behind her watching with interest. I have fought many battles on this alleyway. They have never stopped me once. As long as I don’t take my fights inside the club, we’re all good.
Me: Ask me nicely and maybe I’ll stop.
Myra: Jake, please, I’m begging you. It is not worth it.
She looks right into my eyes and squeezes my hand gently. She has veins on her hands that snake their way all up to her elbows.
Myra: Let’s just go back inside and talk, OK?
The drunk on the ground groans;
Drunk: Next time I see you whore, will be the last time anybody ever sees you again.
I see them roll their eyes and I smile.
Me: See? I can’t just stop now, can I?
It starts all over again. This time I’m blind with rage for a reason even I can’t explain. I ignore blows as I grab his other arm, twist and break, then get to work with my metal bars on his leg. I get kicked on the face, roll over, get on my feet, stagger into a punch, kick out, break a nose and hit the drunk until finally somebody kicks me hard on the head and I black out.
Wilson View Apartments
Lang’ata – Nairobi
Two years ago
I wake up clutching my head in both hands and groan. I slowly sit up, trying to ignore the hammers raining multiple blows on my head and swing my feet off my bed. How did I get here?
I stand up and get woozy so I sit back on the bed and take a deep breath. My entire body hurts. Somebody switches the lights on and I shield my eyes, the lights sending a million nails into my head.
Me: Myra? What the fuck are you doing here?
There is an old couch I bought in my university years which I keep in the bedroom and place laundry on. It is where laundry goes to rest after cleaning but before ironing. Myra is on that couch.
Myra: Somebody had to bring you home.
Me: How do you know where I live?
Myra: I called Ndung’u. The last number on your call list. Figured he’d know where you stay. (She looks around approvingly) For a loser like yourself, you sure have a nice digs.
Me: Get out.
I stagger into the kitchen, grab a bottle of water from the fridge and gulp it all down. Ndung’u is in the living room, perusing through some files.
Me: Did I ever tell you you work too hard?
Him: Someone has to.
Me: Your wife must be going crazy.
Him: Not at all. She is your biggest fan.
Me: For real?
Him: No. They beat sarcasm out of you last night?
I remember something
Me: Did I break his leg too?
Myra: Yes. Congratulations. You are a man of your word.
Me: Thank you.
Runda – Nairobi
Five Years Ago
Asha walks into her master bedroom naked, her body more than fit for a woman in her 40s. There is still some powder on her nose where she hasn’t managed to rub the cocaine completely off. She stands at the edge of the bed where I am waiting for her and beckons at me with one finger
Asha: Come here.
I slide off the bed and slowly walk up to her, her eyes not leaving my penis. She takes me in her hands and puts the other hand on my throat squeezing gently.
Asha: I will choke you until you do something.
Me: Like what?
Asha: You are a smart boy. You figure it out.
South B – Nairobi
Two years Ago
Me: I had a girl once. A normal girl. She had the biggest heart in the world. Too big for her own chest, sometimes I feared it would burst right out and kill her. I remember when we watched “Finding Nemo” together, she cried so much when the big bad fish ate Nemo’s mom and all the eggs. She was like, “it ate all of theeeeeem. All four hundreeeeeed. This is a cartoon. It is not supposed to be saaaad. It ate all them aaaaaaal.”
Myra is looking at me intently, the space between her eyes folded with concentration.
Myra: How did you fuck that up?
Me: I gave up
Her: You gave up?
Me: Yeah. Of all the fighting, all the hurting, every little thing felt too painful.
Her: Ain’t that what love does to you? Intensifies your feelings? You gave up on love.
Me: Ever been in love Myra?
Her: Not in the way people talk about it.
Me: There is no complicated answer to that. It’s either you have been in love or not.
Her: I guess not.
Me: Yet you almost got Johnny dead for you
Her: That wasn’t my fault.
Me: Yeah. He was too much of an idiot to realize you were using him.
Her: Fuck you.
Me: Anyway, after we broke up I was kind of a train wreck. Got a job I shouldn’t have gotten, fucked the only woman in the world I shouldn’t have fucked…
Her: With kids?
Me: With kids.
Her: You asshole
Me: Gets worse.
Her: There is more?
Me: She was crazy. Taught me everything I know.
Runda – Nairobi
Five Years Ago
She is under me on the bed, straddling me, her hand on my throat, squeezing.
Asha: Slap me!
I slap her gently. She lets go off my throat and slaps me hard. Angry, I slap her right back and she bites her lip smiling and drawing blood.
Asha: That’s it!
I am inside her, taking hard so hard that her head hits the bed boards.
Asha: Harder! Harder!
She slaps me again and I grab her throat and pin her to the bed.
Me: Shut up!
Asha: Make me!
I squeeze her throat harder and her eyes start reddening so I relax the grip.
Asha: Don’t stop!
She slaps me so hard that I almost fall off the bed. With my ears ringing and my blood boiling, I choke her hard as I rum into her with all the strength I have left.
Asha: Yeah! Yeah!
She rams against me too, barely able to talk
Me: Is this what you want?
I ram and ram.
Me: Is this it?
Asha: Shut up and fuck me!
She makes as if to slap me again but I grab her wrist, pin her down on the bed and go and go and go as hard as I can. Then I turn her around, press her face hard into the pillow so she can shut up and take her from behind.
By the time we are done, we are a panting mess of sweat, blood, alcohol and cocaine.
Asha: I can guarantee you have never fucked a woman like me before
Me: I wish that were something to be proud of.
Asha: Please. Don’t bullshit me kid. I can see the rage in your eyes.
This time I straddle her chest and shove my penis into her face, trying to keep my breathing in tempo with my rage.
Me: Take it.
Asha: Make me
Me: Are you sure about that?
Asha: Shut up and …
The back of my hand finds her cheek with a loud “pah” that makes her shriek. She didn’t see it coming.
Me: You don’t tell me what to do. Take it in your mouth and please, enjoy yourself.
She wipes the blood off her lips with back of her hand and smiles just a little.
South B – Nairobi
Two years Ago
Myra: I know heartbreak. It doesn’t make a man crazy. Not in the way it’s made you. Somebody somewhere hurt you. Who was it? The married woman?
Me: What is this? Dr. Phil?
I lean forward and sniff in a thick line.
Wilson View Apartments
Lang’ata – Nairobi
Two Years Ago
The sound of my ringing phone wakes me up. It is the OCS calling.
Me: What is wrong?
OCS: They are coming for you Njau
OCS: The cops whose cocaine we busted.
Me: Aren’t they in jail already?
OCS: I don’t know if you’re that naïve or just stupid. Either way, they are coming.
Me: How much time do I have?
OCS: I’d skip town ASAP if I were you.
Me: Where are they?
OCS: In Kiambu. I will text you the details.
Me: (Smiling) Guess my ten bullets and a hundred broken bones are finally here. Thank you.
OCS: So are you…
I hang up on him and turn around. Myra is naked beside me. I shake her up gently.
Me: You have to go
Me: You have to go.
Myra: Aren’t we past that point where you get to kick me out in the night?
Me: We are. But I am expecting guests. You don’t want to be here when they come knocking.
My next call goes to her.
Asha: I told you not to call.
Me: Well I did.
Asha: You call to beg?
Me: I have guests coming.
Asha: You know where they are?
Me: I have an idea.
Asha: Finally! Something fun! Pick me up at my place in thirty.
Kiambu Road – Nairobi
Two Years Ago
We are in my car heading for Kiambu where the guys sent to take me out are preparing themselves. This is how they do it. They arm themselves with guns which are not registered to anybody, burst into your house just as the sun is rising up, arrest you on possession charges for guns and drugs they have just planted on you, take you some place and shoot you in the head.
Asha is seated on the passenger seat beside me, staring outside silently.
Asha: How’s the whore you have been shacking up with?
Asha: Come on Jake. I know everything
Me: Yet you didn’t know they were coming for me.
Asha: They must have kept it hush hush. Something they have planned out in a hurry.
Me: The whore is fine.
Asha: She must be a great lay. That’s why you stopped calling. Begging to see me again.
Me: You must feel good about yourself. Having held so much power over me.
Asha: Rule number one. You don’t fuck a married woman. The exception to the rule?
Me: If you fuck a married woman, you don’t fall in love with her.
Asha: And if you fall in love with her?
Me: Kill her.
Asha: But you break all the rules, don’t you Jacob?
Me: She is excellent.
Me: The whore. She is the best fuck I have ever had.
She swallows hard and that look of surprise she gets when she wasn’t expecting me to come out strong clouds her face. But it dissipates quickly.
Asha: Just don’t fall for her.
Me: Yeah. I have a reputation for falling in love with trash. (I look at her) Know what I mean?
Matthews, Kamanja and Moore Advocates
Fourth Ngong Avenue
Upper Hill – Nairobi
Four years ago
I have just walked into my office wearing my biggest smile yet, when Asha in one of her expensive suits and designer glasses strides in.
Asha: You won. Congratulations.
Me: Thank you. It is always a glorious day when I get a robber acquitted.
Asha: Alleged robber
Me: Oh please. He walked into that bank and left with eight million bob
Asha: Three of which are now ours?
Me: Three of which are now ours.
Asha: Congratulations on your win.
Me: How about that promotion now? That junior partner position I as promised if I won this case?
Asha: You have been an associate here for two years now.
Me: I know. Like I said, time for that promotion.
Asha: You are not hearing me. You’re fired.
Me: Wait. What?
Asha: You are fired. Take your shit. Go.
Me: I have been a great asset to this…
Asha: Yada yada blah fucking blah. Just pack your shit and stop embarrassing yourself.
Me: You are not firing me.
Asha: Is this the part where you threaten to tell my husband that we’ve been fucking?
Me: Thought hadn’t even crossed my mind.
Asha: I hope not. Because he knows. And talking about fucking, I think it’s time I moved on to a new pupil.
Me: How am I going to be compensated?
Asha: (Smiles) Now we are talking.
Two Years Ago
Asha: How is your firm?
Me: I thought you knew everything
Asha: I know it is doing well. I don’t know how you feel about that.
Me: How do you think?
Asha: Are you still mad at me?
Me: No. Why would I be mad at you?
Asha: I thought we don’t do bullshit Jacob.
Me: OK. You want to know the truth; yes I am mad at you. You used me. My life was good until you stepped into it you sick fuck. You led me on. You knew I was falling for you and you acted like that was OK. Did it turn you on? Knowing that there was someone somewhere weeping and begging for you? Did it make you feel special? Important? Good about yourself?
Asha: I’m married. What the fuck did you expect me to do?
Me: You knew you were married when we met!
Asha: And you didn’t?
Me: I know my culpability you shit! But you’re too full of your damn self to even try and understand how I feel.
Asha: How you feel? You think just because you go around tossing your pubescent emotions into everyone’s face that you’re the only one with feelings?
Me: Yes! That’s exactly what I think.
Asha: Good for you Jacob.
Me: How the hell am I supposed to know your feelings?
Asha: You are not. Now shut up and let’s go kill somebody.
I pack in front of a building a kilometer west of Kiambu town. We screw silencers to our guns – clean illegal guns we have lifted from criminals who are also our clients – and step out of the car dressed in black like ninjas.
Asha: Apartment 417 you said?
Asha: Hey Jacob?
Asha: You are the wildest fuck I have ever had.
Me: Yeah. As if that means shit to you.
Asha: Wow. Thanks.
The Massacre at Apartment 417
At least that’s what the media calls it. I would have used the word “bloodbath” instead, but I am a lawyer not a journalist. Our flair for the dramatic is not quite similar.
When Asha and I burst through those doors, we count twelve men cleaning and loading their weapons. We pick them off one by one. Our guns flaring. Bullets sinking into bodies. Me having her back. Her having mine.
She pushes me aside and shoots someone behind me as I get on one knee and take out somebody who is just stepping out of the bathroom. It is just like the old days. Focus. On yourself. On your breathing. On your gun. On the person in front of you. You are going to be OK.
Their guns are loud. Automatic rifles spitting tens of bullets per second. But we have the advantage of surprise and calm. Their shooting is frantic and undisciplined.
It doesn’t even last a minute. That’s how long it takes to kill twelve men. Less than a minute. All you have to do is to not think about what you are doing. When they are all down in various pools of their own blood, dead with their eyes open, surprise and confusion and terror masked on their faces, Asha turns to me and plants a generous kiss on my lips.
Asha: You are so hot right now.
Me: Yeah? Well, I have a girlfriend.
Asha: You better take her and skip town. These guys will keep coming for you until you are dead.
Me: I know.
Later as I drive away, I tell her;
Me: I’m going to miss you Asha. And I’m going to hate myself every second for it.
Asha: Jacob Jacob Jacob. You fall in love with a married woman only to marry a whore. What. Is. Wrong. With. You?
Me: You owe me money
Asha: I do?
Me: Unfair dismissal
Asha: There is a branch of the high court that deals with that kind of shit.
Me: I am holding a gun Asha. Are you sure you want to fuck with my money after I have just come from killing assholes?
Asha: Relax. I’ll send you the money. You know I will.
Me: Good. Because even a whore deserves a dowry.
University of Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam
Hassan: Welcome to the haven of peace.
Me: Thank you
Hassan: I hear you are here for my daughter?
Me: Yes. I am very much in love with Myra
Hassan: How much in love?
Me: (Placing a bag full of Tanzanian notes on the table) About a million much in love
Hassan: (Opens the bag and frowns) This is Tanzanian currency
Me: Sir, your daughter dances naked in front of horny men for money. And I am here asking you to allow me to marry her. This is a courtesy call. Don’t push it.
Hassan: You are Kenyan?
Me: Uh huh
Hassan: By my quick calculation, the money in this bag amounts to about sixty thousand Kenyan shillings.
Me: Uh huh
Hassan: Would you allow your daughter to be married for sixty thousand shillings?
Me: Nope. But I am not the one who beat my daughter and her mother so much that they had to skip the country in search of greener pastures. Now either take the money and shut the fuck up, or I will take it back and marry your daughter anyway. It’s up to you.
He takes the money. Of course.
Hassan: Funny. We’re going through the dowry process like my daughter is a piece of equipment in a shop.
Me: Yeah. Imagine that. Now if you ever even come looking for her or for our kids, I will shove a gun down your throat and pull the trigger. Do you understand me?
Hassan: Marrying a criminal is she?
Me: And just like that, I am taking back half my money. Say another word and I will take it all back.
I divide the money in the bag in two halves, take one and leave one for him.
They say Cape Town is one of the most crime ridden cities in the world. Right up there with Mogadishu, Kabul and Tijuana. But for me, for us, it is home. A place I can hide in plain sight.
I am standing out on the balcony smoking a joint and staring out at the stars and the crescent moon. She slides the glass door behind me open and steps outside. She wraps her arms around me and rests her chin on my neck.
Myra: Enjoying the smoke?
Me: Until now.
Myra: (Chuckles) Fuck you
Me: Two years and your insults haven’t gotten any better. I am beginning to think you haven’t learnt anything from me
Myra: Am I your student or your wife?
Myra: (Looks up) Funny how even a crescent moon looks like it still owns the sky
Me: Authority isn’t about size
Myra: You’d know all about that, huh?
Me: Are you saying something about my dick?
Myra: You are. I’m not.
I turn around;
Me: Come here!
I collect her in my arms, lift her in the air and swirl around as she laughs and shrieks.
Myra: Be careful! The baby!
Her pregnancy is just beginning to show beneath that t-shirt. I put her down and she looks right into my eyes. She places both hands on my face and kisses me gently.
Myra: I am happy here. With you.
Me: I am happy anywhere you are.
Myra: Are you sure? Because sometimes you get that look in your eyes like you’re somewhere else.
Me: The past. A place that haunts me from time to time. But the present is my home.
Myra: You are going to be a dad. We are going to be a family.
Me: We’re already a family.
I take a puff of the joint and crash it out. I exhale slowly, the smoke flying around lazily.
Myra: So that was your last joint?
Me: Does Your Majesty wish it so?
Myra: Your wife wishes it so baby.
Me: Well, goodbye weed along with cocaine. I guess I only have you to look forward to now.
She smiles and squeezes my hand again. I place my arm around her and pull her close. We stand out there on the balcony staring out into the vast sky
Myra: It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
Me: It’s endless.
Myra: Makes you feel small?
Me: Makes me feel safe.
Myra: You make me feel safe.
I chuckle, hold her close and smile.
Myra: Let’s go inside. I’ll fix you a drink.
Me: Then we’ll make love?
Myra: Then we’ll make love.