Wages of Sin (Part 2)

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THIS IS NOT A STORY FOR THE FAINTHEARTED. READERS’ DISCRETION IS NOT ONLY ADVISED, IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Day Three

General Kago Stadium

Kangema Township

Friday. February 4, 2000

06:00h

Corporal Mbugati, unable to get help from the police and from China, decides to conduct an independent investigation into who this gang is and where they can be found. He found word out that he’s looking for people who might have an idea as to these people are and starts meeting with them clandestinely.

That is what brings him to the stadium so early – to meet a man who may have some information.

Corporal Mbugati: Na unasema hao watu waliua mtoto Gakira walikua na mask? (And you are saying that the people who killed a child in Gakira were masked?)

Witness #1: Ee. (yes.)

Corporal Mbugati: Lakini wafanyakazi kwa iyo duka walisema kwa statement hawakuwa na masks na kwamba walikua albinos. (But the wholesale shop workers said in their statements that the thugs weren’t in any masks and that they were albinos.)

Witness #1: Sasa si hao watasema chenye polisi wanawaambia waseme. (They will only say what the police tells them to say.)

Corporal Mbugati: Polisi walisema wadanganyane? (The police told them to lie?)

Witness #1: Ee ama familia zao ziuliwe. (Yeah. Or their families would be killed.)

Corporal Mbugati: Na uliona kitu unique about wao chenye unaweza niambia? (Did you see anything unique about them you could share with me?)

Witness #1: (Shrugging helplessly) Si unique lakini mmoja wao alikuwa mrefu sana. (Nothing unique but one of them was really tall.)

Kangema – Nyeri Highway

Irima Area; Mathioya Division

Friday. February 4, 2000

07:38h

The Corporal not having gotten much information from his first witness, is now talking to the second one, a middle aged woman on her way from the dairy collection center where she had taken her milk for sale. She is still in her gumboots and the milk bucket.

Corporal Mbugati: Kwa nini raia hawakutoka kusaidia ule mwanamke alifungwa kwa miti ya avocado na eti waliskia nduru? (How come nobody came to the rescue of the woman who was killed in the avocado plantation when apparently they heard her screaming?)

Witness #2: Sababu ule wakati mwingine watu walitoka usiku kusaidia mtu anapiga nduru hiyo asubuhi ingine walipatikana kama wamekatakatwa. (Well, the last time people went to the rescue of someone screaming at night, their chopped up bodies were discovered the next morning..)

Corporal Mbugati: Nani aliwakatakata? (Who mutilated them?)

WITNESS #2: Walikuwa wameambiwa na watu wengine hiyo usiku wakiskia nduru wasitoke. Kwa hivo walipotoka nafikiri hao watu ndio tu waliwaua. (A warning had gone round during the day. If you hear any screams that night, don’t run to the rescue. So I guess those who went to rescue the screamers were killed by those who issued the warning.)

Maumau Junction

Nyagatugu Area: Mathioya Division

Friday. February 4, 2000

10:47h

Having failed to get any actionable intelligence from the first two witnesses, the Corporal is now talking to a young girl who seems scared silly.

Corporal Mbugati: Tulikuwa tupatane Kangema town. Kwa nini hukuja? (We were to rendezvous in Kangema town. Why didn’t you show up?)

Witness #3: Kwa sababu polisi walisema nikiongea na mtu ntafungiwa jela na wanaume. (Because the police said if I talked to anyone they would lock me up in the same cell with men.)

Corporal Mbugati: Uliweza kuwaangalia sura vizuri waliokwambia hivi? (Did you look at the faces of those who said this?)

The young girl runs away in fear.

Kangema Police Station

14:00h

The corporal is seated behind the desk scribbling furiously on a foolscap, trying to make sense of all that the witnesses told him in the morning.

Sergeant Lumbasi bursts from outside furiously, through the front desk and into the OCS’s office. She bangs the door shut behind her and stands fuming in front of the OCS.

Sergeant Lumbasi: Kutisha mashahidi! Uko serious? Ata kama ni ufisadi wewe umevuka line. (Witness intimidation! Really! You have crossed the line!)

Desmond Kirui: Sichui unaonkea kuhusu nini. (I don’t know what you are talking about.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: Unajua na unajua! Nimeshinda asubuhi mzima nikiongea na mashahidi na wanasema polisi wamewatisha! (I know you know what I’m talking about! I’ve spent my morning talking to witnesses and they are scared because cops are threatening them!)

She is not exactly using her indoors voice and the corporal scowls with interest and curiosity. To listen in better on the conversation, he leans closer to the OCS’s door.

Desmond Kirui:  Shh. Nionkeleshe kwa heshima ama uente. (Shh. You better start addressing me with some respect.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: Huwezi elewa heshima ni nini ata ukaikunywa kama chai! (You wouldn’t understand respect if you took it with your tea.)

The door opens and the petite Sergeant storms out of the office fuming, her chest rising and falling with each angry breath. She catches the Corporal eavesdropping act and he doesn’t so much as pretend he wasn’t. Instead, he glares at her, then walks slowly back to the reporting desk where he grabs his pen and continues writing aimlessly.

The Sergeant glares at him for a beat then storms out of the station. On his foolscap, the Corporal writes, “Lumbasi. Friend or Foe?”

Corporal Mbugati’s House

Mukarara Area; Kangema Township

Friday. February 4, 2000

22:00h

He is seated all alone in his sitting room enjoying a hot plate and watching a cop show on his tiny TV when he sees Jakubu materialize like a ghost. He is so startled that his spoon leaves his hands and clatters noisily on the floor.

His hand flies to his waist where he normally holsters his gun but at the moment, he isn’t carrying. He jumps to his feet and ready for anything.

Jakubu stands in front of him grinning.

Jakubu: Tulia. (Relax.)

Corporal Mbugati: Umeingiaje? (How did you get in here?)

Jakubu: Kuna watu huekewa locks za upuzi kwa mlango kushinda makarao? (Are there people whose locks are lousier than cops’?)

Corporal Mbugati: Wewe ni nani? Unataka? (Who are you? What do you want?)

Jakubu: Hao wasee unatafuta. Wako na job Sato. (The guys you’re looking for; they have a job on Saturday.)

Corporal Mbugati: Na nafaa kukuamini tu ivo? Si wewe ni mmoja wao? (And I’m just supposed to believe you? You are one of them, right?)

Musa’s Home – Same Time

As Jakubu has his chat with the officer, Musa and Njambi enter the house to find Murefu, Saimo and Kimachia playing cards, smoking weed and listening to roots reggae music as usual. It is a smoky house – a house full of adrenaline charged, trigger happy people who enjoy a constant walk on the corridors of crime.

Musa: Jakubu ari kioro kana? (Is Jakubu in the toilet or something?)

Murefu: Nii ndimwonete guku. (I ain’t seen him.) (Turns to his colleagues) Nimu mwonete? (Have you guys seen him?)

Saimo: (To Musa) Ngwiciragia mwinake. (I thought you guys were together.)

They all look at Musa inquisitively.

Back in the corporal’s house, Jakubu slowly eases himself into an old couch which looks like it might come apart any time now, and sticks his long legs out in front of him carelessly.

Jakubu: Niamini usiniamini, sijali. Lakini unanihitaji kushinda vile nakuhitaji. (I really don’t care whether or not you trust me. All I know is you need me more than I need you.)

Corporal Mbugati: Uingie kwangu, unindanganye kasha mnipeleke mahali muniue? Mimi si fala. (You break into my place and lie to me so you guys can take me some place and kill me? I’m not stupid.)

Jakubu chuckles and leans forward, placing his elbows on his knees.

Jakubu: Zile maswali unaniuliza, sidhani wewe ni mjanja sana. Na ningetaka ukufe ningekuulia tu apa. (Going by the questions you keep asking me, I don’t think you’re so smart. And if I wanted you dead, I’d have killed you right here.)

Corporal Mbugati:  Kwa nini unataka kunisaidia basi? (Why then do you want to help me?)

Just then Jakubu’s phone rings and he holds his index finger up motion the cop to shut up.

Jakubu:  (Over the phone) Ii muru wa maitu. (Hello brother.)

Musa: Wiku mani na twina mucemanio. (Where are you man? We have a meeting.)

Jakubu: Aaa shit! Ka atari muhiki wi haha undukanirie mani. Niguka njukite. (Oh shit! Met a girl and lost all track of time. I’m on my way.)

He hangs up and speaks quickly to the cop.

Jakubu: Sitakwambia kwa nini nataka kukusaidia. Niambie tu saa hii kama unataka usaidizi wangu ama hutaki. (I won’t tell you why I’m helping you. Just tell me right now whether you want my help or not.)

The Corporal, with a decision to make – torn between trusting a man who might be leading him to his doom and letting a potential breakthrough to this case walk away – he sinks back into his couch breathing deep. Finally, he says;

Corporal Mbugati: Niambie. (Talk to me.)

Musa’s Home

23:00h

The house has been cleaned up and everyone has gathered around a table on which lies foolscaps and pencils. There are diagrams and pictures and a map on the table and Saimo is busy explaining –

Saimo: Ota uria mukiui, rucio tukaiya wholesale ya Mbombo’ exactly thaa imwe na nuthu cia hwaini. Niturite Kirui kuguo gutigakorwo na thirikari. We Kimachia ukarugama murangoini ota kawaida, na nii ni nii ngaharakisha mundu wa mbia twina Musa… (As you all know, tomorrow at exactly 7:30pm, we will hit Mbombo’s wholesale shop. Kirui is aware of this so we will not be expecting any police intervention. Kimachia, you will guard the door as usual whereas Musa and myself will grab the money…)

As Saimo explains on, Musa watches his brother, wanting to trust him but utterly unable to fight that itchy feeling of suspicion. Where was he?

Later, outside the house, Musa and Jakubu are seated on a wooden bench under a tree at the corner of the compound. The security lights are illuminating the compound beautifully and the wind drives the leaves to a fro, making them produce a whooshing sound.

The taxi they stole looks nothing like it looked before. It has new color, new and chromed wheels, new plates –

Musa pulls a bottle of beer from a crate at their feet, hands it to his older brother and takes one for himself too.

Musa: Muru wa maitu ni uhitiirie umuthi. (You messed up today bro.)

Jakubu: Ninjui mani na ninjugire ni sorry. (I know man and I am sorry.)

Musa: Ti undu na kuga ni sorry. Niui uria ukoragwo na ahiki. (It ain’t about apologizing. It’s about how you are with women.)

Jakubu: (Pissed) Ngoragwo atia na ahiki? (How am I with women.)

Musa: (Cautious but firm) Ndiri na mbaara nawe, gua gua. Maita maria mothe uthiite jera uthiite ni tondu ahiki makuhenirie, ukimahe thiri ciaku ciothe na… (I’m not looking to fight so relax. But the times you’ve been in jail, it’s always been because a woman lied to you, you told them your secrets and…)

Jakubu: Na ngimoraga nii mwenyewe ndauma jera. Ma kana maheni? (And I killed them myself when I got out of prison. Right?)

Musa: Pointi yakwa ni… (My point is…)

Jakubu: (Interrupts angrily) Nduri na pointi no mutwe urandia!! (You don’t have a point. You’re just pissing me off.)

Musa chuckles in a friendly way. He fondles his bottle as he smiles kindly, takes a sip and relaxes on the bench. He rotates the bottle in his fingers and whistles an old tune.

Seeing that his brother is relaxed now, Jakubu leans back and sticks his legs out, enjoying the beer. He doesn’t see Musa coming until it’s too late.

Musa smashes the beer bottle hard on his brother’s head breaking it (the bottle) and Jakubu falls on the ground. Musa follows him there and presses the jagged edges of the broken bottle against his jugular.

Musa: (Still smiling; kind voice; no hint of anger) Riu tondu ninguriire mutwe muno ndukireke ngurie mumero. (Since you’re so tired of me pissing you off, how about I just cut your throat open right now.)

Jakubu: Ndungigeria. (You wouldn’t.)

Musa presses the jagged edge harder breaking Jakubu’s skin.

Jakubu: Niuguo niuguo. (That’s enough.)

MUSA: Wi mukuru kungira no giki gikundi ni giakwa. Wangua wana ringi makionaga ma ya Ngai ngagucucanga na ngute rui. (You might be my older brother this is my gang. You undermine my authority again like that and I will slice you to bits and throw your body in the river.)

Musa gets off his brother and makes as if to walk away. Jakubu starts to get up but then Musa turns around and smashes a well placed kick to Jakubu’s face rendering him unconscious.

Day Four

Kangema Police Station

Saturday. February 5, 2000.

05:00h

Corporal Mbugati is behind the desk when Desmond Kirui walks in majestically. The Corporal looks at him like, ‘I know a something you wouldn’t want me to know’. Desmond looks back at him and smiles kindly.

Desmond Kirui:  Hapari yago goplo? (How are you Corporal?)

Corporal Mbugati: Salama sana afande. (I’m doing great sir.)

Mbombo’s Wholesale Shop

All Musa can hear is his heartbeat. He has this feeling like he is inhabiting someone else’s body and is here against his will. His limbs are moving even though he doesn’t want them to.

Him, Murefu, Kimachia and Saimo are all standing inside the shop watching Jakubu in horror; Jakubu who is standing in front of them with a dagger to Njambi’s throat.

He puts his hand out to calm his brother and when his speaks, it feels to him like his voice is coming from inside a water tank. A deep and somewhat muffled voice that he doesn’t recognize as his own.

Musa: Iga kahiu thi muru wa maitu tukaririe mbere. (Just put the knife down brother and we can talk about this.)

Jakubu: Hatiri mbere turariria. Either wirathe mutwe kana kahiki gaka nyumanie o riu. (I’m done talking. You either shoot yourself in the head or I’ll kill her right now.)

Musa: Ndugeke uu. (Don’t do this.)

Jakubu: Ni unguite wana kahinda karaya na ndi munogu. Igirira mucinga ucio mutwe-ini waku na wirathe. (You have taken me for a kid for long enough. Put your gun to your head and pull the trigger.)

The two exchange contemptuous stares. One commanding, the other rebelling. Finally and with determination –

Musa: Aca. (No.)

Jakubu: Sawa. (Alright.)

Jakubu is unhesitant in his motion. He slides the knife across Njambi’s throat leaving a bloodline behind. She gasps, her hand flies to her bleeding throat and her knees failing her.

The always loyal Saimo is emptying his gun into Jakubu and as Musa watches both his girlfriend and his brother fall, his eyes open.

Musa’s Home

Whenever they have a job, the gang sleeps at his place so now his colleagues are sleep on the couch and on mattresses on the floor.

He stands up, strides over a few sleeping bodies and over to the light switch which he flicks on.

Musa: Ukirai. (Everybody up!)

One by one, they wake up groaning sleepily and shielding their eyes from the light.

Saimo: Nikii gutukiria tene uguo mani na umuthi ni Saturday? (Why are you waking us up so early? It’s Saturday)

Musa: O mundu acoke gwake. Wira wa hwaini nindakanja. Saimo hurira Kirui umwire wira tutikuuruta umuthi. (Go home everybody. I have cancelled tonight’s job. Saimo, call Kirui. Tell him we ain’t working tonight.)

Unable to respond to that, they all stare at him, words collectively failing them.

Saimo: (Standing up) No turugame na haha nja tuheheranire ndeto igiri ithatu? (Could we talk outside for a minute?)

Musa agrees and as he walks out with Saimo, Jakubu watches them, contempt washing over his face, unable to handle the bond between the two men, unable to handle how Musa can push him aside and prefer to confer with someone who ain’t blood.

Jakubu: Ta mone i. Ona mundu no gwiciria Saimo niwe muru wa nyina. (Look at them. One would think Saimo is the brother.)

Njambi: Tiga uiru Jakubu. Korwo ni wiciragia mbere ya wikite undu Musa ni angikuheaga gitio. (Don’t be jealous Jakubu. If you thought more before leaping Musa would respect you.)

He slaps her hard across the face and she punches him hard on the nose. He makes as if to strike her again but the rest of the people in the room intervene. Njambi manages to slip in the last insult.

Njambi:  Ona kungitagara kihii nawe thii ng’ima ingihe kihii handu ha ndeke nginya unguhiririe. (If it were just you and an uncircumcised man left in the world, I would sleep with the uncircumcised boy before I even let you close to me.)

Outside, Saimo drapes his arm around Musa’s shoulder –

Saimo: Nikii mani na ndugaruraga mbau? (What’s going on man? You never change your mind.)

Musa: Wira wa umuthi ndiraigwa ta ugukorwo na ugwati. (I feel like something will go wrong with tonight’s job.)

Saimo: Ugwati wa muthemba uriku? (What do you mean wrong?)

Musa: (Angry) I ugwati wa gikuo. Hari ugwati ungi? (The kind that leaves us dead. Is there any other kind?)

Saimo: Hari kaundu uiguite? Nikii kiuru? (Did you hear something? What’s wrong?)

Musa: Aca mani ndiguite undu. No uria ndokira ndaigua ta tutabatie kuruta wira ucio umuthi. (No man. It’s just, I’ve woken up feeling like we shouldn’t do this job today.)

Saimo pauses, searching for the best language to use to change the young leader’s mind.

Saimo: Ni uri hakiri, nduri guoya na nduri woragithia ona mundu ona umwe witu, ni ma? (You are smart, brave and you’ve never led to the death of anyone of us, right?)

Musa: Ni ma. (Right.)

Saimo: Turutite wira hamwe miaka iigana? (How long have we worked together?)

Musa: Miaka ina riu. (Four years now.)

Saimo: Ningutiite, na andu aya othe me nyumba thiini ni magutiite muno makiria. No gitio githiraga andu aku manjia kwona ta wina guoya. (I respect you and those people in the house respect you so much too. But respect erodes when your people begin to think you are getting cold feet.)

Musa: (Convincingly) Ti guoya. (I’m not getting cold feet.)

Saimo peers into his face and is assured that Musa isn’t scared. Still he proceeds cautiously –

Saimo: Jakubu arakwirire arari ku hwai? (Where did Jakubu say he was last night?)

Musa: Arari na ahiki. (He was with women.)

Saimo: Wi na ma? (Are you sure?)

Musa: (Offended) Ndi na ma kana uguo niguo aranjirire kana ndi na ma arari na ahiki? (Am I sure if that’s what he told me or am I sure he was with women?)

Saimo: (Lifting up his hands in surrender) Gua gua munene. Ndiri na uru. (Relax chief. I didn’t mean to offend you.)

Musa: Ndi na ma. Ni muru wa maitu na ndahenagia kuguo nindimwitikitie. (I’m sure. He is my brother, he never lies to me and I trust him.)

Saimo: Hatikiri thina. No ndugathamia wira uyu umuthi. Ona ni kaba tuurute arafu tutikarite wira ungi Kangema kindu ta mwaka umwe. Githi? (OK. But don’t call off tonight’s job. I’d rather if we do it then pause our operations in Kangema for about a year. Is that OK?)

Musa sighs, trying to the terrible feeling he has about the job.

Musa: Ndiui mani. Wira wa umuthi ti mwega. (I don’t know man. Tonight’s job doesn’t feel right.)

Saimo: Nii nindiranyita uguo na Njambi ni akunyita uguo. No aya angi ureciria Jakubu ndakumaheherera matuhuhu arafu manjie gugwiciria uru? (I get that and so will Njambi. But the rest of them, Jakubu will poison their minds and they will start turning against you.)

Musa sighs again. Saimo pushes on.

Saimo: Fine. Tugithie twihariirie haro. Tukue micinga yothe na twire aya angi maikare me chonjo no kiumane o hindi o yothe. Ukuga atia hau? (Fine. Then we will go ready for war. We will carry our entire arsenal and we will tell the guys to be extra careful tonight. What do you say?)

Musa is grave faced but slowly, a smile touches his lips. He appears to like the idea. Slowly his smile gets bigger and when Saimo is convinced that the boss is happy, he slaps him on the shoulder happily.

It is however when Saimo turns around and bounces back into the house happily that Musa’s face freezes, completely unhappy about the prospect of going forward with tonight’s job.

Inside the house, Saimo has gathered the gang around the table and is conveying Musa’s concerns.

Saimo: Kuratuika wira uyu no ukorwo na gathina kanini koguo umuthi o mundu agukorwo na mucinga wake na tukorwo maitho biu. (There has been a reported threat to tonight’s job so everyone will be carrying a gun and be extra vigilant.)

Musa enters the house slowly, almost unwillingly, the only thing propelling him now being the rule that as a leader, he is supposed to appear fearless and without doubt.

His brother drapes his arms around his shoulder saying;

Jakubu: Musa ndukireke nguaririe haha nja kidogo. (Musa, can I have a minute outside?)

Musa pulls the arm off his shoulder and slides out of the room – nothing seems to be going his way today. Once he is outside, his mind takes a leap to the darkest corners of possibilities, everything that could go wrong with the job clouding his brain.

Jakubu: Mani ndiraigua wega umuthi. (I’m not feeling well today.)

Musa: Nikii kiuru? (What’s wrong?)

Jakubu: (In pain) Ona ndiui nikii no mwiri ucio niurarega wira. (I can’t put my finger on what the exact problem is; I can’t work today.)

Musa nods – the kind of nod that appears to run through time, going on and on.

Musa: I see.

Jakubu: Ni sorry muno mani. Korwo ni ingiahota, niui ni ingiathie wira na… (I’m so sorry man. You know I would have gone to work if I could but…)

Musa walks away from him mid sentence and reenters the house where he finds Saimo still briefing the group.

Musa: (Interrupts Saimo) Jakubu ni muruaru umuthi koguo tukumutiga guku. (Jakubu isn’t well. We’ll be leaving him behind tonight)

Saimo draws in a quick breath, a sharp one which cuts like a knife, but if he has any reservations or concern, he doesn’t verbally raise them. Instead, he proceeds to brief the group the more.

Saimo: Murefu ugupaki ngari irorete riumiro. Handu hao ni horu tondu hari riingiririo rimwe, na riumiro rimwe. Koguo tungihingiririo nitwathira. (Murefu you’ll park the car facing the exit. That place isn’t so strategic because there is only one entrance which also doubles up as the exit.)

Njambi:  Nai bara ndiri haria rugongo rwa nduka? Tutingipaki ho arafu twarikia wira tuteng’erere ngari ihenya? (There is a main road right above the shop. Can’t we park there and run to the car once the job is done?)

Saimo: Bara iyo i ta mita fifte kuma murangoini wa nduka na ni karima gatheri. Tungibatara gukorwo na ihenya na twina mbia no hareme. (The road is about fifty meters from the shop’s doorway and we will be running uphill. What if we needed to get away in a hurry and we are carrying the cash?)

Njambi: Tugugikorwo na micinga na hau bara hena chance nena nene ya kura na ngari? (But we have guns plus there is a better chance for a vehicular getaway right there on the road.)

Saimo: Ureciria atia Musa? (What do you think Musa?)

Musa: Reke tupaki ngari hau murangoini wa nduka. Murefu ni ndereba muhiu ni aguturuta hau ona gwathuka atia. (Let’s just park outside the shop. Murefu is a great driver and he will get us out no matter how bad things get.)

Saimo: Makoragwo na wocimani umwe tu. Ucio niwe tukuratha arafu acio angi maguika uria tukumera hatari ciuria. (There is only one watchman. We’ll kill him to ensure everyone else’s complete cooperation.)

Mbombo Wholesalers Limited

19:30h

Kangema

Murefu the getaway driver pulls the car to a stop outside the big shop and taps the wheel gently as if listening and dancing to music, playing only in his head. He keeps the engine running. One cannot tell that it’s the same car that they stole from Wambugu.

The doors open and all but Murefu get out with guns in hand. They are all masked and since it’s early evening, the compound is lit up with bright fluorescent bulbs.

There are a few casual laborers carrying offloading stock from a lorry packed outside and into the shop and they are clad in dirty brown overcoats. A middle aged foreman stands by the door with a book and pen in hand, recording the stock as the workers carry it into the shop.

Stock consists of bags of rice and sugar, bails of both wheat and maize flour, buckets of cooking fat, et al.

And then there is the watchman who has now been marked for death. He is an elderly man with a slight limp and whose only weapon is a baton.

Five seconds after stepping out of the vehicle, five seconds which run too fast for anybody outside the shop to realize that there are armed and masked people stepping out of a car, Njambi raises her weapon and shoots the watchman right between the eyes decorating the wall behind him with red liquid.

The loud gunshot has everyone’s attention. Workers drop their luggage and some fall to the ground while others attempt to run. There is general chaos all around. Screams. The runners can’t get far because Kimachia is standing at the only exit with a gun in hand.

Kimachia: (To the workers kindly. Almost requesting) Nituakinya. Ingira thiini ndamuhoya niguo na ithui twethe mutu. (We have come. Everybody please get inside so that we too can earn our living.)

The workers, screaming and scampering, all make their way into the big shop including the foreman. The gang follows them in there where Saimo fires two rounds to the ceiling as soon as he enters the shop and orders –

Saimo: Haya! Nimwonaga mikwa. Aici maingira bengi na micinga andu othe makomaga thi flat! (Alright. You all have seen the movies. When robbers enter a bank with guns, everyone lies down!)

As those in the shop get on their bellies, the gang members take their respective places and Saimo turns to the cashier lady at the counter and puts his gun in her face.

Saimo: We! Witaguo uu? (You! What’s your name?)

Cashier: Aresi (Alice.)

Saimo: (As he tosses her a back pack and covers her with his gun) Aresi ndirenda mbia ciothe uikie muhuko ini uyu. (I need you to fill my bag with money Alice.)

Terrified, mumbling prayers, shaking hands, Alice tries hard to obey.

Saimo: Ihenya Aresi. Ndina ciana cinjetereire mucii. (Hurry up Alice. I’ve got kids waiting for me at home.)

Musa grabs the foreman and pulls him off the ground roughly.

Musa: Tuthie thebuini riu. (Let’s go to the safe now.)

As the foreman staggers to his feet he says –

Foreman: Tutiri thebu guku. (We don’t have a safe here.)

Musa laughs beneath his mask, releases the foreman because he was handling him roughly, smoothens his coat nicely all the while nodding as if he has just realized he had made a mistake.

Musa: (Very apologetic) Oh. Sori baba witu. Ngwiciragia ni kuri thebu. Ni wanjohera? (Oh, I’m so sorry pops. I really am. I thought there was a safe. Do you forgive me?)

The old man, not sure how to react to that, nods timidly. Musa turns to Alice

Musa: Alice.

The cashier looks at him with tears of terror streaming down her face.

Musa: Ndora wega. Hiana kihii? (Take a nice look at me. Do I strike you as uncircumcised?)

Crying loudly, she nods negatively as Musa places his gun on the foreman’s temple and squeezes the trigger with Alice watching. Blood splashes from the executed man’s head as he collapses on the ground and Alice and everyone else in the shop screams their lungs out.

Musa: Kirai! (Shut up!)

He points his gun to the ceiling, fires twice then points it at one of the casual laborers closest to him.

Musa: Kayai ringi muone kana ndikuanjia kumurekia umwe kwa umwe. (Scream again. See if I don’t start dropping bodies, one by one.)

Nobody can control a crowd like Musa. The workers clamor together on the floor, hands on their heads, unwilling to so much as look up and see what’s happening. On the floor, the foreman lies on his back, his eyes open, his blood flowing from under him.

Musa turns to Saimo –

Musa: Rikia na Alice umune. (Once you are done with Alice hand her over to me.

Saimo: (To Alice) Mbia thiini wa bagi naiyu naiyu ti kuonga turonga haha. (Money. In the bag. Hurry up! Hurry up! We are not breastfeeding here.)

Terrified, confused and in a trance, Alice puts all the money her eyes can see anywhere into Saimo’s bag. Some of the notes fall between her fingers and she hurries down on her knees, emitting tiny cries as Saimo screams orders at her and eventually she is done.

Outside in the getaway car, Murefu is seated inside the vehicle smoking a cigarette. Not even the sound of the gunshots perturbs him. The engine is still running.

Kangema Police Station

Sergeant Lumbasi is at the front desk when Desmond Kirui bursts in from his office glaring –

Desmond Kirui: Nilitani Mpukati ntie ako kas leo. (I thought Mbugati is on duty today.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: (Smiling like she thinks she is smart) Aliniomba nimshikie hii shift na mimi nimpee yangu ya Valentine’s Day. (He asked me to take his shift tonight and offered to take my Valentine’s Day shift.)

Kirui’s face registers worry.

Desmond Kirui: Na unatani ako wapi saa hii? (Where do you think he is right now?)

Mbombo Wholesalers Limited Wholesale Shop

Corporal Mbugati, in plainclothes, is hidden in the shadows, his gun in hand. He fists a magazine into his  pistol and corks it. He is alone, his gun ready, walking bravely, headed for the shop’s doorway right where Kimachia is standing guard. He is approaching from behind the getaway car.

Inside the shop at the safe, Musa is covering Alice with his gun, Alice who is trying to open the safe but her sweating and shaking hands signify that she is having a pretty difficult time getting the combo right.

Musa: Alice ndiguguthaitha ati niguo urelax. Wekira number njuru ringi ningukuratha iru. (Alice I won’t be nice to you so you can get the combo right. If you put in the wrong combination again, I’ll shoot you in the knee.)

Tears streaming, body shaking, sweating, mucus falling, Alice takes in a deep breath and this time gets the combo right. The safe opens to reveal what must be several millions in cash. Stacks upon stacks of it. Musa tosses her a bag. The sight of that amount of cash doesn’t make him drop his guard. He is as calm as ever.

He expected the money to be in there because today is Saturday and the banks closed early before Alice and a guard could deposit the money as they usually do every day at 16:00h. Everyday except Saturday that is.

Musa: Huniria muhuko ucio. (Fill her up.)

Corporal Mbugati is close to the shop now but he is approaching from behind Murefu’s car. Murefu who is too busy smoking and drumming the steering wheel with his fingers, engrossed with the music in his head, to take a glance into the rearview mirrors.

Besides, he is not expecting police intervention because Kirui will be holding his boys back as usual, until after the fact.

In the shop, Saimo yawns loudly and looks at his wristwatch.

Saimo: (To the floored workers) Nii ni mboekire. Tuthakei muthako. Inyuothe hingaii maitho. (I’m bored. Let’s all play a game. Everybody, close your eyes.)

The workers oblige him because nobody wants to be shot. Kimachia, distracted by Saimo and wondering what he could be up to now, averts his eyes from outside and onto Saimo.

Saimo: Ndakuhutia ukahingura maitho, ngakuria kiuria kimwe. Wacokia wega, uhinge maitho. Wacokia uru, Tua! Tua! (If I touch you, you will open your eyes. I will ask you a question and if you get the answer right, you close your eyes again. If you get it wrong, Tua! Tua! {i shoot you.})

He squats in front of one of the workers, takes off his mask and touches him. When the worker opens his eyes, he comes face to face with Saimo’s toothy smile.

Saimo:  Uri wanyona handu brother? (Have you ever seen me anywhere bro?)

Kimachia at the doorway is watching Saimo entertain himself. He has dropped his guard because neither him, not Murefu outside, expects any interruption.

It is as Corporal Mbugati, with gun in hand, is hurrying past Murefu’s car that Murefu spots him but he can’t do anything in time. The police officer is moving too fast and Murefu is too surprised. Too shocked.

At the safe inside the shop, Musa’s bag is full and the safe is empty. Alice zips it up and he picks it up, his smile hidden behind the mask.

At the shop front, Saimo continues grinning at the worker who replies –

Worker: Ndiri ndakuona. (I have never seen you before.)

Saimo: Nduakihitia muno ni kunyona riu. (Then you have made a big mistake in seeing me now.)

Saimo puts the gun to the worker’s head and shoots him attracting screams from the rest of them. Kimachia’s full attention is on Saimo, who is just about to turn to another worker when from outside Murefu yells –

Murefu: KIMACHIAAAA!!!

It must be the terror in Murefu’s yelling voice that gets everyone freezing.

Outside the shop, Murefu grabs his gun but it is too late. Kimachia turns around and comes face to face with Corporal Mbugati’s pistol muzzle. His face relaxes just a second before Mbugati’s finger squeezes the trigger –

Saimo watches as Kimachia’s head comes apart, the air around the head turns into a faded red color of a spraying geyser of blood as Kimachia collapses heavily on the floor. As Kimachia collapses on the ground. Dead long before his body can hit the ground.

Saimo catches a glimpse of the Corporal as he turns to run. He raises his gun and fires twice but the cop is too fast.

Saimo: MUSAAA! MUSAA!

He calls as he runs outside the shop in hot pursuit. Njambi is following him but he yells at her as he tosses the money bag at her –

Saimo: Twara mbia icio ngari thiini na unjeterere hau! {Pointing into the shop} Na andu acio matikaume kuu! (Take the money to the car and wait there for me! And don’t let those workers leave the Shop!!)

At the safe, Musa heaves the heavy bag on his back and rushes out towards whatever it is that has Saimo screaming his name in front of witnesses.

Outside the shop, Corporal Mbugati has taken the most convenient route for a runner. A car cannot follow him because he is running on bumpy and grassy ground, running towards the edge of the shop’s wall from where he will take a corner and disappear down a steep hill.

If only he can make it to that corner without his back catching a bullet, he will get away with this alive. Saimo has followed him on the grass and is taking shots but since he is running and shooting at the same time, the bullets go wide, missing the Corporal.

Murefu is in the car observing Rule Number One of a getaway driver. Keep the engine running and stay in the car no matter what. But he has lost his calm; he is fidgeting and visibly anxious.

Musa runs out of the shop towards the car, heavy bag on back and gun in hand. He opens the back door, tosses the money in and runs after Saimo after yelling at Murefu –

Musa: Tuhe ndagika imwe. Twaga gucoka ukure, na ndukareke Njambi akuiguithie undu! Ni waiugua?! (Give us one minute. If we are not back by then, drive off and don’t let Njambi convince you otherwise! Do you understand?!)

A confused and dazed Murefu doesn’t answer fast enough so Musa punches him on the face.

Musa: Niuraigua?!! (Did you hear me?!)

Murefu: Ii.. Iii…nindaigua. (Yeah.. Yeah. I heard you)

And gun in hand, Musa is off fast.

The corner is a meter away. The corporal is running hard for it. Breathing hard. Hopeful that he will make it. Scared that he might not.

Saimo knows that if the Corporal gets to that corner, he is gone. He is not willing to allow that. He takes a knee and aims carefully.

The corner is here. As the Corporal takes it, Saimo’s gun goes off and the bullet whizzes in the air. The corporal can hear fast approaching whizz.

The bullet grazes his left ear and smashes into the stonewall at the corner of the shop. It burrows into the wall and digs out tiny fragments which fly and some hit him as he disappears around the bend and some sink into his face and neck sending him screaming in pain but not slowing him down. He made it!

Saimo isn’t ready to let him go. Screaming with frustration, he gets off his knee to continue pursuit but Musa grabs his shoulder and turns him around.

Saimo: (Pulling free) Ndekia! (Let go!)

He yanks his shoulder free and makes as if to run after the corporal but Musa grabs him again and smashes a hefty right hook into Saimo’s face sending him staggering.

Musa: Tiga wana Saimo! Ndurona ta tukamunyita rucio?! (Don’t be daft Saimo. Don’t you think we’ll get him tomorrow?)

Saimo: (Aggravated) Aratha Kimachia mutwe ngionaga arafu urenda ndimutige? (He shot Kimachia in the head as I watched and you want me to leave him alone?)

Musa: Tuinuke, tutire na mahinda thaa ici. Rucio nitukamunyita. Kiu ni kiriko. (Let’s go home; we don’t have the time for this right now. We will get him tomorrow. I promise.)

Back in the shop, some workers are on the floor and others are on their feet and they are all arguing about whether to leave or wait.

WORKER #1: Na i titure. Tugweterera haha moke matunine? (I say we run for it. We can’t just wait for them to come back and kill us all.)

WORKER #2: Hena matuetereire hau nja na micinga. Twauma no nginya maturathe. At least tweterera no matutige. (Some of them are waiting for us outside with guns. If we leave they must shoot us. If we wait, they might let us live.)

At that juncture, Saimo and Musa stride into the shop with their masks off. A shot in the air and everyone is back on their bellies.

Saimo: Ta uria muiguire, uyu etagwo Musa, na nii njitagwo Saimo, na toria muona, turi aici na oragani. Ni muone thiu citu na thigari cioka no muciire ni ithui. No tutirenda uguo. (He points to Worker 1) We tarugama. (Like you heard, my colleague here is Musa and I am Saimo. As you have witnessed, we are robbers and murderers. (Points at Worker #1) You! Stand up!)

Worker 1 stands up and Saimo shoots him twice in the chest as the others muffle to contain their wish to scream.

Saimo:  Ndamuratha niguo ndimuhe forexabo. Nituamuona thura na nitui haria murutaga wira. Mundu ukunyura kaundu gwi thigari kana mundu o wothe nginya nguku cianyu, tukumukora kwanyu nyumba mwi toro, turathe ciana cianyu na andu othe me kwanyu maguru, tumahingire nyumba thiini, tuite betro na tumundie. Ni mwaigua? (I’ve shot him as an example of what will happen if anyone of you whispers anything that happened here to the cops or anyone else or anything including your chicken. If anyone breaches this rule, we have seen your faces and we know where you work. We will pay you a visit at your home, shoot your children in the legs and anyone else you live with, lock them inside the house, douse it with paraffin and light it up. You understand?)

From the looks on the workers’ faces, they are only too glad to shut up.

Musa and Saimo load Kimachia’s body into the trunk of the getaway car and they drive off in silence.

Civil Servants’ Quarters

Mukarara Area; Kangema Township

Superimpose: Saturday. February 5, 2000.

21:00h

Corporal Mbugati is staggering on an all weather road splashed with beautiful surroundings of cypress and jacaranda trees. He staggers some more as his hand covers his throat from which blood is leaking.

Finally unable to keep walking, he collapses on the ground facing the clear night skies takes his phone off his pocket and makes a call to Sergeant Lumbasi

Sergeant Lumbasi: Uko wapi wewe? Unaskia venye kuna milio ya risasi leo? (Where are you? There are gunshots going off everywhere.)

Corporal Mbugati: (Weakly) Nimelala kwa barabara apa karibu na gate ya Michuki. Kuja mbio labda utanipata. (I am lying on the road just near Michuki’s gate. Come quick maybe you will find me alive.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: Michuki mgani? (Which Michuki?)

Corporal Mbugati: Si MP! Kumbaff! (The Member of Parliament you idiot!)

Kangema Police Station

In his office, Desmond Kirui is on the phone with Musa.

Musa:  Mmoja wa ao watu wako, ameniulia mtu. (One of your boys, killed one of my boys.)

Desmond Kirui: Nakuahiti sikua nachua atafanya ifo. (I assure you Musa; I had no idea what he was up to.)

Musa: Mimi sitaki kujua. Nataka ushike iyo mbwa, uniletee mahali pametulia, nimkatekate mwenyewe. Sawa? (I don’t care. I need you to bring him to me and I’ll chop him to bits myself. Alright?)

Just then,Sergeant Lumbasi enters the office saying –

Sergeant Lumbasi: Corporal anableed out na apa chini kwa Michuki. Nimsaidie ama? (The Corporal is bleeding out just near Michuki’s place. Do I help him?)

Musa screams over the phone –

Musa: Ee msaidie malaya hii! Ni part gani ya nataka kumchinja mwenyewe ndio huelewi? (Yes! Help him you whore! What part of I want to chop him up myself do you not understand?)

Desmond nods affirmatively to his Sergeant.

Kiumu Dispensary

21:32h

Corporal Mbugati is lying on his back, shirtless and on a metal slab. A Nurse, is pulling tiny bits of stones and bullet fragments from his bleeding face and throat. He is moaning gently like a trapped animal.

Musa’s Home

Nyagatugu

The car pulls over outside the house and the gang steps out grim faced. Murefu and Njambi take the money bags into the house while Musa and Saimo go over to the now open trunk and pull Kimachia’s body out.

Murefu comes back out with three shovels and three hoes.

Musa: (Looking around pissed) Na Jakubu enaku riu? (And where the hell is Jakubu?)

Nobody dares engage him when he is in this mood. Instead, they carry the body a distance away from the house where they start digging Kimachia’s grave.

Day Five

Kimachia’s Grave

Sunday. February 6, 2000

02:00h

Despite it being night, the three shirtless and soiled men Murefu, Saimo and Musa are sweating. They are seated around the freshly dug hole and Kimachia’s body, wrapped in a blanket, is lying inside the hole.

Njambi joins them holding four bottles of beer and hands each one to each of the men. She sits on the soil with them and as they drink –

Murefu: Ni mui riria ndari jera Kimachia okaga kunyona o wiki o wiki? (When I was in prison Kimachia came to visit me on a weekly basis.)

Njambi: Okire kaingi nginya Saimo akimuria kai mwahikanirie? (They all chuckle) (He visited you so much that Saimo wondered if you guys were married.)

Musa: Ona Jakubu ohwo Kimachia nowe wathiaga kumuona riria ithwi aya angi twetigagira tutikakuhuranio nake ona ithwi tuohwo. (And when Jakubu was jailed, only Kimachia visited him while the rest of us were too scared of getting associated with him and jailed too.)

Njambi: Na riria twathire wira Eldoret ngirathwo kiande Kimachia niwe waikarire na nii na agithondeka nginya ngihona. (When I got shot on the shoulder on that Eldoret job, it was Kimachia who stayed by me and nursed me back to health.)

Murefu: Ii na Musa akiihuria muno eciritie Kimachia ni mutumia aramutunya. (They chuckle again) (Musa was not happy about that. He thought Kimachia was creeping on his wife.)

They all turn to Saimo who has been silently staring into the grave all along. Musa holds his shoulder and squeezes it gently.

Musa: Ndukiuge kaundu brother, ndugikirire muno. (Say something brother. You have been too silent.)

Saimo opens his mouth to say something but nothing comes to mind. He shuts his eyes for a second and sees himself back in the shop. He sees a gun to Kimachia’s head. Gunshot! Kimachia’s head is half blown off and as he slowly collapses to the ground –

A silent tear flows from Saimo’s eye and he doesn’t even wipe it off. Instead he continues staring blankly into the hole as Musa squeezes his shoulder gently.

Musa’s Home

04:30h

Musa and Saimo are seated outside the house smoking cigarettes, drinking beer cans and listening to an early morning reggae music show each completely immersed in their own thoughts, when Jakubu staggers into the compound more drunk than a fish.

They both watch him in cold silence. He staggers in front of them and watches them back swaying from side to side drunkenly.

Saimo: (To Musa) Ni ukuaria nake kana njarie nake? (Will you talk to him or should I?)

Musa doesn’t answer him. Instead, he stands up and walks close to Jakubu, looking at him right in the eye. Jakubu in his drunken stupor has to fight hard to maintain such a sharp eye contact.

Musa: Niki? (Why?)

Jakubu: (Slurred speech) Niki kii? (Why what?)

Musa: Uratwendirie kuri muthigari ucio niki? (Why did you rat us out to that cop?)

Jakubu chuckles, sways drunkenly and laughs.

Jakubu: Ndiui nikii urauga nii. (I don’t know what you are talking about.)

He turns to stagger away with pride but Musa grabs his shoulder to turn him around. Jakubu yanks Musa’s hand away, turns around and back slaps Musa hard across the face sending him staggering.

Musa regains his balance fast enough but on facing Jakubu, he comes face to face with the muzzle of his brother’s pistol and a very sober Jakubu. He was pretending to be drunk after all.

Saimo makes as if to stand up but Jakubu shifts the gun to him –

Jakubu: Tiga uguo wituaga ngoma Saimo. Wageriea gukiriria kiu giti ngukuratha maitho meri. (I know you think you are some sort of a tough guy Saimo but if you dare leave that seat, I’ll shoot you in both eyes.)

Saimo shifts his eyes to Musa who motions him to stay put. So Saimo relaxes, takes a drag from his cigarette and a sip from his beer can. Then he smiles at Jakubu – who once assured that Saimo is relaxed now shifts the gun to his brother.

Musa advances on his brother with a knife in hand. Jakubu sees the knife and backs up a couple of steps.

Jakubu: Ndina mucinga na urenda kundisha na kahiu? (I’ve a gun and you are coming at me with a knife?)

Musa: Nii nindihariirie gukua uguo no undathe. We niwihariirie gukua? Tondu waga kundatha nii no ngugutheca. (I’m ready to die so go ahead and shoot. But are you ready to die? Coz if you don’t shoot me, I’ll stab you.)

Saimo hadn’t seen this coming so he gets disturbed again.

Saimo: Ni kii ureka Musa? (What are you doing Musa?)

Musa: Uyu ni muru wa maitu Saimo. No ndimurage ndenda na gutiri mundu ukunjika undu. (This is my brother Saimo. I can kill him if I want and nobody can do anything about it.)

Jakubu is scared and it shows. His face is falling apart; he is taking back steps as Musa is taking front steps. His hand is shaking and his eyes are moistening.

Jakubu: Ningukuratha Musa tiga kunguhiriria. (If you don’t stop, I’ll shoot you Musa.)

Musa: (Carefree) Ndukindathe angorwo wi muruu. Tondu nii ni kihii ndirina mbere gikiinaina ta kionio ruhiu ni mwathi. (Take a shot if you are a man. Because all I see in front of me is an uncircumcised coward shaking like he has just seen the circumciser’s knife.)

Still covering his brother with a gun in a shaking hand, Jakubu spills his guts –

Jakubu: (Shaking voice; cowardly) Ndireciragia ni gugukua mundu. Ndireciragia guguka thigari nyingi munyituo. Ma ya Ngai ndirendaga gukue mundu. (I didn’t think anyone would die. I thought there would be lots of cops and you would be caught, but I never wanted for anyone to die.)

Musa: (Calmly) Uratuendirie niki? (Why did you rat us out?)

Jakubu: Tondu inyui othe munguaga wana ta itari bata. Ndihetwo gitio ni mundu, na we ni we munini kungira na niwe munene witu na niwe wina muhiki na niwe uhetwo gitio na… (Because you all treat me like I’m an idiot, like I am of no use to anyone. I’m not respected in this group and look at you. You are the leader, you have the girl, you have their respect and yet you are the younger brother and…)

Musa: Uratwendia ni undu wa uiru? (You ratted us out because you were jealous?)

Musa takes faster step towards his brother who yells out loud now –

Jakubu: Wanguhiriria ringi ningukuratha!! (You come any closer and I will shoot!!)

Musa doesn’t slow down. Instead he yells right back –

Musa: Ndukirathe mani! Ratha!! (Then shoot man! Shoot!)

Jakubu’s finger tries to squeeze the trigger but his cowardice or conscience lets him down. His face crashes even more and a tear trickles down. Saimo is dying with interest and he is on his feet now.

Musa pushes the hand holding the gun away, grabs his brother’s head pulling him closer into a hug and sinks the knife into his ribs.

Jakubu’s fear is gone and in its place is a calm face of acceptance. As Musa slowly lays him on the ground, he chuckles and his fingers let go the gun.

Jakubu: (Sotto Voce) Ni sori muru wa maitu. Ni sori muno. (I’m sorry brother. I’m so sorry.)

Musa looks over his shoulder and talks to Saimo calmly.

Musa: Ukiria Murefu na muke na ithanduku ria first aid. (Wake Murefu up and bring the first aid kit.)

When Murefu and Saimo come running out of the house followed closely by Njambi, they find Jakubu alone on the ground. Musa is gone. They all, with the exception of Saimo, runn to Jakubu’s assistance. Saimo walks in the opposite direction instead.

GICOBO CLEARING; NYAGATUGU AREA

KANGEMA DIVISION

SUNDAY. FEBRUARY 6, 2000

04:44H

The clearing is mostly a hill at the bottom of which lies a path. It is a pretty secluded hill covered by grass and ferns.

Musa is seated at the top of the hill SMOKING A JOINT and looking down the hill thoughtfully when Saimo stands beside him.

Nyagatugu is a very hilly place and from the top of Gicobo hill, one can see the distant slanting tea plantations, vast stretches of manmade forests, houses that look small from a distances and many hills and valleys.

Musa:  Twi ihii nii, Kimachia and Jakubu twathakagira kirimaini giki. (When we were boys, Jakubu, kimachia and myself used to play on this hill.)

Saimo sits down beside his friend, pulls the joint from Musa’s fingers and places it on his own lips.

Musa: Twarutaga nding’oing’o mai ini ma ng’ombe, tukwamioha kuguru gwa thutha na karigi tugatinda tukimithiururukia. Hwaini twainuka tukauga twatinda tukiriithia. (We would fetch beetles from cow dung, tie up their hind legs and spend the day whirling them around. In the evening when we went home, we would say we spent the day grazing.)

They stare down the hill in the very early morning, share the joint and small talk.

Saimo: Kirima giki ciana ibatie gukurutukira, ti guthakia nding’oing’o. (Kids should slide down this hill, not play with beetles on it.)

They chuckle a bit and then Musa adds seriously –

Musa: Wega wa haha ni ati ona tungeianegenire atia gutire mundu watuiguaga. Kimachia anaunikira kuguru haha na ona twauga mbu atia, gutire mundu wa tuiguire. (The best thing about this place is that no matter how much noise you make, nobody hears you. Kimachia once broke his leg here and no matter how much we screamed, nobody heard us.)

Saimo: Nikii uranjira? (What are you telling me?)

Musa: No tuthinjire mundu haha ari muthenya birigici na gutiri mundu ukamenya. (We could slice up a person up here during the day and nobody would ever be any the wiser.)

Musa’s point slowly dawns on Saimo who smiles happily.

Musa:  Hurira Kirui thimu o riu umwire twina mubango. (Call Kirui right and tell him we have a plan.)

Inside Kirui’s House

04:50h

Kirui is in his bedroom wrapping up a call with Saimo –

Desmond Kirui: Sawasawa Saimo. Acha nionkee na sachent nimprif. (OK Saimo. Let me brief the Sergeant.)

He hangs up the phone and makes a call to Sergeant Lumbasi.

Desmond Kirui:  Sachent, kuna mpango wa kumuntoa gopro. Fanya hifi… (Sergeant, we have a plan on how to handle the Corporal. Here is what I need you to do…)

Kiumu Dispensary

08:47h

Corporal Mbugati is lying in bed asleep when his phone rings loudly jerking him awake. The left side of his face and neck area is heavily bandaged – the white bandages now covered with faint reddish brownish patches of drying blood.

He painfully sits up with his head in hand, groans and sees Sergeant Lumbasi seated on a chair beside him asleep. He shakes her awake.

Corporal Mbugati: Naona ulifika kabla nikufe. (I see you made it before I died.)

They smile at each other before she hands the phone over to him. He picks it up with disinterest. He doesn’t recognize the caller’s number.

Corporal Mbugati: Hello

Stranger: Corporal Mbugati?

The corporal is now mildly interested.

Corporal Mbugati: Ni nani? (Who is this?)

Stranger: Iyo haijalishi. Ulifanya kazi nzuri jana na hao wakora. (That doesn’t matter. That was a fine job you did on those criminals last night.)

Now, he is really interested prompting the Sergeant to be interested too.

Corporal Mbugati: Unataka aje? (What do you want?)

Stranger: Unajua Nyagatugu ni wapi? (Do you know where Nyagatugu is?)

Corporal Mbugati: Ee najua Nyagatugu. (Yes.)

Stranger: Kua hapo kwa center ya majani chai ya Kibage saa tatu na nusu. Kama unajua utachelewa na ata dakika moja usishinde ukikuja. (Be at the Kibage Tea Buying Center at exactly 9:30. If you know you will be late by even a minute, don’t bother coming.)

Corporal Mbugati: Na nafaa aje kujua huu si mtego? (How am I supposed to know that this isn’t a trap?)

Stranger: Sikulazimishi kukuja. (I’m not forcing you to come over.)

The line goes dead. The corporal slides the phone off his ear slowly looking at the Sergeant.

Sergeant Lumbasi: Ni nini? (What’s up?)

Corporal Mbugati: Nahitaji kwenda Nyagatugu saa hii. (I have to go to Nyagatugu right away.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: Sababu nishajua unapenda kufanya kazi yako peke yako sitashinda nikikuuliza kama unataka twende pamoja. (Since I know how you love working alone, I won’t even ask if I can ride along.)

Corporal Mbugati: (Smiling) Basi ntakuomba uende na mimi. Siamini sana huyo jamaa (Come with me. I don’t trust that guy.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: (As she stands up and puts on her coat) Good. Ndio twende ukinieleza kwa nini uliua mtu badala ya kumshika. (Good. Maybe you will explain why you killed somebody instead of making an arrest.)

KANGEMA – NYAGATUGU ROAD

09:13h

The police landrover is speeding along the road and the two officers are seated in front with Mbugati driving.

Corporal Mbugati: Hao watu walikuwa wengi na wote walikuwa na bunduki. Ningeenda kuwashika wangenimaliza. Na hata ningewashika Kirui angewaachilia tu. (Those guys weren’t few and they were all armed. If I went to arrest them, they would have killed me and even if I had made the arrests, Kirui would have just let them go.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: Basi kwa nini ulienda peke yako? (Then why did you go alone?)

Corporal Mbugati: Nilitaka Muchina anisaidie lakini wakati huo nilikuwa nataka kuwashika si kuwaua, na yeye alikuwa anataka kuwaua kwa hivo hatukuelewana. (I asked Muchina to help me but at that time I wanted to arrest them not kill them. He wanted them dead so we didn’t come to an agreement.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: Nilikuwa namaanisha, kwa nini hukuniomba twende pamoja? (I meant, why didn’t you ask for my help?)

Realizing his mistake, he looks at her with regret on his face and wondering how best to speak his mind. Prompted by the look on his face, she adds –

Sergeant Lumbasi: Hukuwa unaniamini. (You didn’t trust me.)

Corporal Mbugati: (Regretfully) Pole. Lakini unajua venye askari hua kwa hii kesi ya kina Musa kwa hivo sikuwa najua ni amini nani niache nani. (I am sorry. But you know how cops are with this Musa case. I just didn’t know who to trust.)

Sergeant Lumbasi: (Smiling slightly) Sasa unajua? (Now you know?)

Corporal Mbugati: (Smiling at her) Sasa najua. (Now i know.)

His left hand leaves the steering wheel and holds her right hand timidly at first. They make eye contact, smile at each other and she clasps his hand in hers.

Kibage Tea Collection Center

Nyagatugu

09:27h

The police land rover pulls over just outside the tea collection center’s gate but the two cops stay in the car, looking around.

They have pulled over facing the Aberdare Ranges in front of them and Kangema town behind them. On their right is the tea buying center and on their left is an all weather road that leads to Gicobo hill.

They don’t see Murefu crouching from behind the land rover. They only see him when he materializes at the passenger’s side beside Sergeant Lumbasi, yanks the door open and pushes her to the middle seat saying –

Murefu: Songa haraka nisionekane. (Move over before somebody sees me.)

He then hops into the vehicle and hides under the dash board all the while the two cops watching him; bewildered.

The Corporal pulls out his gun but keeps it out of Murefu’s sight.

Corporal Mbugati: Ni wewe tumeongea na wewe kwa simu? (We spoke on the phone?)

Murefu: Ningekuja apa si mimi? Una maswali za upuzi ata kushinda za karao wa kawaida. (Would I be here if we didn’t? That’s a stupid question. Even for a cop.)

He points to the road that leads to Gicobo clearing

Murefu: Enda upande huo. (Follow that road.)

It is at that juncture that the corporal points the gun to Murefu’s head and the latter looks at him shocked.

Murefu: Manze sina time ya huu ujinga. (I don’t have the time for this.)

The sergeant is watching all these calmly.

Corporal Mbugati: Unaniona mimi ni fala aje? Wewe ni nani? (Do I look stupid to you? Who are you?)

Murefu: Iyo ni muhimu? (Is that important?)

The corporal corks the gun prompting Murefu to keep talking.

Murefu: Naenda kukuonyesha kwenye iyo geri huishi. Unajiskia tuishie ama hujiskii niache kuwaste time? (I want to show you where that gang lives. Do you want my help or not? I don’t want to waste my time.)

The corporal watches Murefu as if trying to decipher his trustworthiness from his face. He then turns to the Sergeant enquiringly and she shrugs in a manner that appears to ask, ‘what do we have to lose?’

Corporal Mbugati: (To the sergeant) Mfrisk tafadhali. (Frisk him please.)

The Sergeant does her best to frisk the guy which is troublesome due to the limited space in there but once she is convinced that he is clean, they turn into the all weather road that heads to Gicobo clearing and drive downhill with Murefu still hiding under the dash board.

GICOBO CLEARING; NYAGATUGU AREA

SUNDAY. FEBRUARY 6, 2000.

09:45h

The land rover makes a stop at the path at the bottom of the hill and the three people step out. The corporal is still covering Murefu with his gun.

Corporal Mbugati: Wanakaa wapi? (Where do they live?)

He and the Sergeant are also looking around but Murefu’s eyes are trained at the top of the hill. The Corporal follows Murefu’s gaze and right there at the top of the hill stands Njambi with a Machete in hand.

Instinctively, the Corporal wraps his arm around Murefu’s throat and trains the gun on his head with his other hand using him as a human shield in case –

Njambi: (Yelling from the top of the hill) Unadhani nitakutupia panga ama? (What do you think I’ll do? Throw this machete at you?)

The Corporal stays silent but observant. The Sergeant has her pistol in her hand too.

Behind Njambi materializes Musa and then Saimo. They both stand on either side of Njambi and stare down the hill.

Saimo has a machete and Musa wields an axe; which is turning out to be his favorite weapon when he is not using a gun.

Corporal Mbugati: (To Murefu) Wewe ni Mrefu. Lazima wewe ndio mtu mrefu kwa hawa mikora. (You are tall. You must be the tall guy in this group.)

Murefu: Una maswali ya ujinga na unamake observations obvious. Ikiwa makarao ni kama wewe Kenya haina bahati. (You ask stupid questions and make obvious observations. If you’re the type of cops available to this country, Kenya is screwed.)

Slowly and almost in an automated manner, the three gangsters at the top of the hill start walking downhill, slowly – but freaking the corporal out.

Corporal Mbugati: (Re: Murefu) Simameni apo ama nimpige uyu risasi ya kichwa. (Stop moving or i’ll shoot him in the head.)

That doesn’t even slow them down. Mbugati’s finger shifts to the trigger and he is about to effectuate his threat – after all he has a gun and they have machetes and axes which are useless in a gun fight – when Sergeant Lumbasi points her gun to his head.

The look on his face when he realizes what is happening is one of utter desperation. The flesh on his face sags, his brow folds, his eyes widen and his lips shake.

He lets Murefu go and the latter grabs his gun; but it’s not like Mbugati is paying any attention to him. He is looking at the Sergeant with betrayal on his face. It is as if in that one second, he realizes just how deep rooted the insecurity problem is in the country. How hopeless his fight has been all along.

He staggers in shock and leans against the land rover, his head swirling. He looks at her, not uttering any words, but his expression asking with any humanely possible emotions, ‘How could you? Why would you?’

Njambi is the first to reach them. She walks up to the corporal, stands in front of him and looks at him squarely in the face. She grabs his collar and pulls him away from the Land Rover but the corporal isn’t paying any attention to her. His eyes are still on the Sergeant.

Njambi sizes him up, takes a slow walk around him and notices just how hurt he is by the Sergeant. To Mbugati, Lumbasi’s betrayal is painfully personal. He opened upto her and she stuck a knife in his back. In the form of a gun to his face.

Njambi: (To Mbugati. Re: Lumbasi) Kwani amekuvunja moyo? (Has she broken your heart?) (To Lumbasi. Re: Mbugati) Ulimfanya akupende? (You made him love you?)

Musa chuckles.

Musa: Tiga madharau Njambi. (Be nice Njambi.)

Njambi stands in front of the Corporal again and runs her finger down his hurt face. He now looks at her spitefully but that doesn’t bother her. She turns to her boyfriend smiling –

Njambi: Taine uria karandora na maitho moru. (Just see the spite in his eyes..)

Musa: Ni maitho ma kiura maria matagiraria ng’ombe kunyua mai. (They are the frog’s eyes that never keep a cow from drinking from the stream.)

The entire gang is at the bottom of the hill now, all standing around the cops watching with comical expressions, Njambi’s little show.

She cups the Corporal’s cheeks in her palms and he visibly shudders with spite. He puts out lots of saliva and spits right in her face.

She doesn’t react even after the saliva lands. She continues cupping his cheeks in her hands as the saliva makes its way down her face. Then slowly, she takes out a handkerchief from her pocket and wipes it away. She is not disgusted or even upset. Her face is set; an expressionless mask.

Njambi: (Re: Lumbasi) Inakaa huyu mwanamke amekuumiza sana. (Looks like this woman really hurt your feelings.)

She walks over to Lumbasi, stands in front of her and looks her in the eyes, smiling seductively at her. Lumbasi is confused.

Sergeant Lumbasi: Kwa nini unaniangalia ivo? Tuko pande moja mimi na nyinyi. (Don’t look at me like that. We are on the same side.)

One moment, her Njambi’s machete is lying idle in her hands, and the next, the sharp blade is sinking into the Sergeant’s stomach and penetrating through to her back.

Sharp gasps escape everyone’s mouths because that was not part of the plan. Most surprised is the Sergeant judging by the ghastly look on her face.

Njambi pulls out the machete and the Sergeant collapses heavily on the grass and just before the last breathe escapes from her lips, Njambi steps on her chest saying spitefully –

Njambi: Wanaume wana dhamana kubwa sana. Hufai kucheza cheza nao ovyo ovyo kama hu intend kuwa nao. (Men are very precious. You shouldn’t mess around with them if you don’t plan on being with them.)

A pool of blood forms under Lumbasi’s body and Njambi turns around to the Corporal.

Njambi: Hakuwa anafaa kucheza na roho yako. Pole. (She wasn’t supposed to play around with your feelings. I’m sorry.)

She then turns to the rest of the gang and does a curtsy like she has just completed a breathtaking performance.

Musa: Riu tukuira Kirui atia? (What do we tell Kirui now?)

Saimo: Tigana na ngui iyo. Kwanza unayo nituramiuraga, no twabe turikirie corporal haha. (Don’t even mention that dog. We will kill him by the way, but first let’s finish with the corporal.)

Saimo pulls out a pen knife and advances on Mbugati. When he is close enough, he pricks his cheek a little, but just enough to produce a drop of blood, which he places on his tongue. He doesn’t appear to like how it tastes so he spits it out in disgust.

Njambi: Kai atari na cama? (Isn’t he sweet?)

Saimo: (Still spitting) Aca. Ni mururu biu. (Nope. He is totally bitter.)

Saimo is watching the corporal who is showing no signs of fear at all; but anger and bitterness.

Saimo: Mwanake arenda haro. (I think he wants a fight.)

Musa scowls. He is curious.

Musa: (To Mbugati) Naskia unadai vita. (You want to fight?)

Corporal Mbugati: (Scornfully) Nyinyi waoga hamuezi itikia kupigana na mwanaume. (You cowards wouldn’t want to fight a man.)

Saimo, who already harbors a grudge, smashes a reverberating right hook on the Corporal’s hurting jaw sending him to the ground. The rest of the gang holds Saimo back from delivering a cruel beating unto the fallen cop. The cop staggers to his feet and spits blood.

Corporal Mbugati: Si unaona. Waoga. (You see. Cowards.)

Musa: Basi tutacheza game, yenye ukishinda utaenda home. Ukishindwa, Saimo apa anakumaliza. (Fine then we will play a game. You win, you go home. You lose, Saimo here ends you.)

The corporal spits again.

Musa: Corporal sababu unataka vita tutakupa vita. Mimi, Njambi na Murefu tutasimama uku kati kati ya mlima. (Because you want a fight Corporal, we will give you a fight. Murefu, Njambi and myself will position ourselves in the middle of the hill.)

Musa points at three places in the middle of the hill where the three mentioned characters will take their positions, each at some distance from the other.

Musa: Wewe utakua umesimama apa chini. Utangoja niseme ‘go’ alafu utakimbia uko juu ya mlima na sisi tutajaribu kumake sure hujafika juu. (You will be at the bottom of the hill waiting for me to yell ‘go’. When I do, sprint uphill as fast as you can and our job will be to make sure you don’t make it to the top of the hill.)

Corporal Mbugati: Mtanisamisha aje? (How do you plan on stopping me?)

Musa: Na vita. Utahave kutuchapa sisi wote hadi ushinde kabla ufike juu ya mlima. (Fight. You will have to beat us all to submission if you want to get to the top of the hill.)

Corporal Mbugati: Lakini mna mapanga na mimi nko mkono tupu. (You are armed with machetes and I’m bare handed.)

Musa: Usijali Corporal. Sote tutakuwa mkono tupu. Kama unakufa leo utakufa kwa heshima. (Don’t worry corporal. We will all be bare handed. If you die today, it will be with honor.)

Corporal Mbugati: Lakini mko watatu na mimi ni mmoja. (But it will be three against one.)

Musa: Usipush bahati yako. (Don’t push your luck.)

Corporal Mbugati: Najua aje nikishinda mtaniachilia? (How do I know you will let me go if i win?)

Musa: Usipocheza tutakuua tu saa hii. (If you don’t participate, we will kill you right now.)

10:00h

The Corporal is at the bottom of the hill standing in front of Saimo who is wielding a machete. Musa yells –

Musa: Go!!

And Mbugati heads up the hill really fast.

He is headed for Murefu and the latter is waiting. Mbugati is fast and athletic. When he gets close enough, Murefu throws a jab but since he is so tall and he is also standing on higher ground, his jab arcs above Mbugati’s head.

The cop bends a knees slightly and uses Murefu’s jab throwing force to collect him off the ground, over his shoulder and down on the ground below him. Murefu crashes on his back with a shuddering thud while Mbugati continues his race uphill.

As Murefu scampers after him –

Saimo is waiting downhill with the machete in hand. He has the patience of a predator tagging a prey. Not in a hurry, but sure of success. He is not participating in the fight. His job is to wait downhill and if Mbugati rolls to him, Saimo will chop him to bits. So whatever the cop does, he knows he shouldn’t roll all the way down.

Musa is running for the Corporal from the Corporal’s right. The cop sees him coming and accelerates his velocity uphill – but Njambi is waiting – and Murefu is following.

Njambi is close enough. Since she has the upper ground, it is easy for her to just leap in the air with both legs and place a double kick on Mbugati’s chest sending him rolling downhill toward where Saimo is waiting with his sharp machete –

And that’s what she does.

Mbugati sees her coming, leaping and flying in the air, but he is also distracted by Musa who is now screaming loudly with the sole intention to distract. Njambi’s feet land on Mbugati’s chest, his feet leave the ground and his body goes flying downhill.

Murefu watches as Mbugati’s body goes flying past him and Musa and Njambi watch as it flies downhill.

He crashes on his back, does an unintentional somersault and rolls fast toward Saimo who now holds his machete firmer in his hands.

Mbugati is rolling and rolling involuntarily. He tries to grab the grass only to uproot it but that doesn’t stop him from sliding down to the waiting shark’s jaws. He manages to grab on a firm fern, which though cuts into his palm, it slows him down to a point where he manages to stop his rolling – but only just.

He looks down and sees that a couple of more rolls and he would have been at Saimo’s feet. And then it would have been all over.

He gets on his feet but staggers so he gets down on his knees to clear his swirling head from all the rolling.

The three gangsters walk closer downhill as he clears his head. He gets on his feet and starts running uphill again. The gangsters are ready for him. Musa and Murefu are on either side of Njambi, ready to cut the cop off if he tries getting past them.

He runs headed straight for Njambi. Musa runs downhill to meet him with a rugby tackle. Mbugati knows his intention and when Musa leaps, he side steps. Musa misses.

Mbugati runs really fast for Njambi, jumps high in the air, and with a scary battle cry, he smashes his right jab right on her nose smashing it flat into her face.

But he doesn’t even stop after she screams and drops on the ground like a bag. To them it is just a game, to him, it’s a race to save his life. Murefu just manages to grab his foot, which he yanks pulling the corporal down hard.

Mbugati plants his foot hard against Murefu’s face but Murefu doesn’t let go. He is yelling –

Murefu: Musa! Ihenya! (Musa! Hurry up!)

Njambi is screaming her lungs out, pressing her hands against her broken nose. Blood is sipping from it, through her hands and onto the grass.

Mbugati kicks Murefu again. Murefu doesn’t let go even after that kick draws blood. Musa is rushing to his girlfriend’s assistance but she pushes him away –

Musa: Teithia Murefu! (Help Murefu!)

Another kick to Murefu’s face and he lets go. Mbugati gets up and rushes uphill but Murefu is up and after him. Since he is really tall and really fast, his long strides enable him to catch up with Mbugati just before he gets uphill and wins –

Murefu grabs his shirt and pulls him hard downhill. As Mbugati sails past him the second time, Murefu smashes a heavy jab into Mbugati’s stomach pushing wind out of him.

Mbugati crashes at Musa’s feet. Musa stops him and smashes jabs into his face. Mbugati does his best to block them and when Musa sees he isn’t doing much damage here, he kicks Mbugati in the ribs pushing him further downhill towards Njambi, who screaming, grabs him and bites him hard on the breast.

Mbugati screams and pushes Njambi away. She falls on her ass. He is on his ass too and this is a determining moment. If he kicks her again, he will knock her out. If she kicks him first, he will have to start afresh all over again.

He kicks out first, she blocks his kick and kicks him right on the ear – and she is extraordinarily fast with her feet – sending him rolling downhill again.

Saimo yells –

Saimo: (To Mbugati) Jiachilie tu kijana hadi unifikie. Nitakumalizia uchungu mbio. (Just let go man and roll to me! I will put you out of your misery fast.)

But Mbugati isn’t rolling so hard so he manages to stop himself and this time, he doesn’t waste time getting his head clear. He is on his feet rushing up again.

The gang scowls. Mbugati is very determined. So determined that their morale is going down. Plus, Mbugati is still so fast and so vigorous. It’s like he isn’t at all tired. Like he is just getting started.

This time, Mbugati first comes across Musa who tries to kick him in the chest but Mbugati evades and plants a couple of fast jabs into Musa’s stomach. Musa bends over and Mbugati pulls him hard downhill. Musa rolls all the way to Saimo’s feet.

Saimo: (To Musa; smiling) Ukira mwanake ucoke wira. (Get up kid and get back to work.)

Musa: (Good humor) Ngui ino. (You dog.)

Saimo pulls him to his feet and sends him back uphill where – Murefu is facing Mbugati and this time the former is being careful. Mbugati sweeps past him just as Murefu wanted. Now that Mbugati is standing on a ground higher than him, height is not a disadvantage to him any more.

Mbugati wants to run uphill but Murefu turns him around and they exchange fast blows. Some land, other are evaded. Njambi and Musa are fast approaching.

Soon it will be three against one and Mbugati is growing more adrenaline charged. He is so close to the top. If he can only get rid of Murefu before the other two get here! His jabs start landing on Murefu with more heat behind them

Two jabs to the nose, a chop to the throat and a kick to the chest and Murefu is sent downhill but now Mbugati is really tired and bleeding from last night’s injuries and the fresh ones he has acquired during this lengthy fight for his life.

He doesn’t watch Murefu roll down. Instead, he sprints up but Njambi jumps on his back. Picture a piggy ride.

Mbugati tries to get her off his back by trying to throw her off but he is unsuccessful. Musa then gets to him. While he tries to throw her off, Musa is busy planting heavy jabs to his face and body. As if that’s not enough, Njambi sinks her teeth into his throat.

And that’s when Mbugati loses his mind.

From here on, he screams. It is as if by screaming, the immense torture and pressure he is under will alleviate. Completely ignoring his physical pain, his feet leave the ground and he falls on his back deliberately crashing Njambi under him.

Musa continues beating him but he ignores that completely and focusses on knocking Njambi out. He smashes a jab into her already broken nose again then delivers a well placed kick to the side of her head. She loses consciousness.

Then still screaming, he turns to Musa. From the corner of his eye, he sees Murefu running back uphill and his screaming gets louder and more animalistic. Droplets of saliva are splashing from his mouth like he is a rabid dog.

He tears off his torn shirt and dumps it at his feet. Musa jabs him and he doesn’t even bother with blocking. He is beyond physical pain. Musa throws another fist but Mbugati gets a hold of that hand and delivers a head butt to Musa’s face. He follows this up with a screaming foray of jabs to the body after which he grabs him by his shirt and literally throws him downhill where he crashes into Murefu and both of them go rolling back to Saimo. Njambi is knocked out and the boys are downhill.

Mbugati has just won.

When that realization hits him, his sanity starts creeping back in and the force tears off his strength. He drops on his knees and his screaming stops. He looks downstairs and sees Saimo aiming to shoot him.

Corporal Mbugati: Si unaona! Waoga! (You see! Cowards!)

Musa gets up and slowly pulls Saimo’s hand down.

Musa: Reke athie. No aguthie oi ndugatiga kumuhita nginya riria agakua. Ni ura imagini kutura na guoya ucio? (Let him go. But he will leave knowing that you will hunt him down for the rest of his life. Can you imagine living in such terror?)

Mbugati on his knees at the top of the hill sees Saimo lower his gun and he sighs loudly. He just survived the worst ordeal of his life.

On all fours, Mbugati crawls the rest of the way to the top of the hill and just when he gets there – he sees a couple of legs in front of him and on looking up, he comes face to face with Jakubu’s scornful face. Jakubu also has a hockey stick slung over his shoulder.

Jakubu: Hii ni ya Kimachia. (This is for Kimachia.)

On Mbugati’s face is the look of a man who has just fought so hard to keep his life only to lose it to an unforeseen circumstance.

The hockey stick flies in the air and comes into contact with Mbugati’s chin. The force literally collects him off his knees and sends him on a free fall towards Saimo.

Jakubu flinches because the force he has used has hurt his stabbed ribs. He drops on his knees and watches as Mbugati rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls….

He appears to stop just where Njambi is lying down. And she chooses that moment of all moments to regain consciousness.

She struggles to sit then uses all the strength she has left to push the dazed Mbugati downhill with her legs, then she watches from the middle of the hill as Saimo hands over the gun to Musa and gets ready to chop and slice.

Mbugati looks up and sees Saimo smiling down at him with the machete in hand. He is downhill at the executioner’s feet.

Saimo motions Musa and Murefu to move away then turns to the fallen Cop..

Saimo: Ni poa hujakufa bado. Nitaanza na miguu, niende kwa mikono, nikung’oe matumbo, kisha nikukate kichwa. (I will start with your legs, then hands, then i will disembowel you before chopping your head off.)

The machete is in the air. Then it lands and when it comes back up, the blade has blood in it, Mbugati is screaming and blood is splashing.

They are all, with Saimo’s exception, flabbergasted especially after Mbugati’s screaming reduces to a dying animal’s groan then it is eroded by the sudden Saimo’s yelling.

He continues chopping even long after Mbugati is dead and he continues screaming with each chop. Finally because the blood on his hands has made too slippery the act of holding the machete, he throws it away, gets down on his knees beside the dead man and starts driving jabs into what little is left of the body – still screaming.

Finally, his punching grows weak and his screaming becomes an uncomfortable mixture of screaming, crying and laughing and it is all hysterical and maniacal.

He then lifts his blood dripping hands up, looks up to the sky and yells –

Saimo: Amukira igongona riri ndakuhee Mwene Nyaga! Thaai thathaiya Ngai thaai! (Receive my sacrifice oh Lord! May peace prevail between God and Men!)

Njambi: (Sotto Voce) Ngai Mwathani. (Oh Lord.)

Their faces show shock as they witness a higher bar to Saimo’s insanity in the backdrop of his hysterically maniacal laughter, crying and screaming.

Musa’s Home

12:00h

In the house, Njambi is standing by the window watching Saimo who is seated outside smoking a joint silently and with a distant look in his eyes. She has a huge bandage on her nose where Mbugati broke it. Musa stands behind her and hugs her from behind tenderly.

Musa: Turerorera Saimo niki? (Why are we watching Saimo?)

Njambi: Rimwe ni anjiguithagia thithi. (Sometimes he creeps me out.)

Musa: (Chuckling) Rimwe? (Sometimes?)

She smiles, turns around. They make as if to kiss but his nose touches her nose and she shrieks out in pain. They try again and as they kiss what will have to pass for tenderly – Murefu walks in shirtless and with a towel around his waist.

Murefu: Ringi ona nii umuthi no nyingirire. (Maybe i could join you guys today.)

Njambi: (Friendly playful voice) Riria ugatisha niguo ugakua. (The day you’ll try is the day you’ll die.)

Murefu: (Feigned shaking) Sss. Njiguite guoya. Nindauma bafu thiei muithambe. (Sss. I’m so scared. I’m done with the shower. You guys can hop in.)

Musa and Njambi look at each other seductively. She tries to smile but her nose forces her to flinch in pain.

14:00h

They are all seated outside the house on plastic chairs eating. They are surrounding a big tray full of meat which they are eating with ugali

They are lively. As they eat –

Musa: Toria mui nii na Kirui twarikaniire turage ikundi icio ingi ciothe gukorwo no ithui turaoperate Kangema. Saimo ndugitaririe hau hangi? (As you are all aware, Kirui and myself had agreed that we bump off all other criminal gangs around and we will be the only ones operating in Kangema. Saimo, explain the rest.)

Saimo: Niguo riria ndira aria inyue no nyama muraninira? (Why? So that you all can eat all the meat while I talk?)

They laugh a bit, crack some jokes then Saimo gets back to it.

Saimo: Anyway, Mungiki ni uingihite muno Kangema, uguo turarikaniire na Kirui tworaga Corporal tutware mwiri wake haria Mungiki uingihiire, tumorage na tutige mwiri wa Corporal hau. Kirui nake ere andu a habari ati thigari ni cio ciroragire Mungiki ni guo oneke ta araruta wira… (The Mungiki Sect has become a big problem in Kangema, so we agreed with Kirui that when we kill the Corporal, we’ll take his body to where Mungiki will be administering an oath to new recruits, kill them, and leave his body there. That way when Kirui goes to the press and says that it was the cops who bumped off the Mungiki problem, he will be seen to be working…)

Jakubu: Kuraga Mungiki gugututeithia atia? (How will killing the Mungiki help us?)

Saimo: Gugutuika Mungiki niguo urutite wira uria wothe turutite na gutire mundu ugatwiciria o ri. (It will be said that it has been Mungiki doing all the jobs we have been doing and noone will ever suspect us.)

Jakubu: No Kirui ni oi ni ithue na no atugaruruke baadaye. (But Kirui knows it’s us and he can turn on us later.)

Njambi: We ndukamakio ni Kirui, cindano yake i riko. Kirui eritwo ati umuthi hwaini Mungiki ugukorwo Mathioya ruini makiingiria andu eru. Andu twendi thrii. Tukumakora hau nii na Musa. (Don’t you worry about Kirui. He will get what’s coming to him. But right now, he has been informed that tonight; the Mungiki will be at the Mathioya River oathing twenty three new recruits. We’ll handle them. Musa and me)

Jakubu: Andu 23 ni mukumahota muri eri? (Can you take down 23 guys just the two of you?)

Njambi: (Scornfully) Matuhota nawe tuguo ugukena. (If they put us down, you will be happy.)

Jakubu: Riu nikii wanjia njinu na ndikuragia na uru? (Why the insult? I’m just asking.)

Njambi wants to retort but Musa cuts in –

Musa: Matikumenya tugikinya. Ningi ni ciana citingituhota. (We’ll take them by surprise. Plus they are just kids. They can’t take us.)

Jakubu: I ithui aya angi mugutiga tugika atia? (And what will the rest of us be doing?)

Musa: Paki ii indo ciothe tugubatara mwaka mugima. Turathamira Nyandarua? (Park everything we’ll need for a year. We are moving to Nyandarua.)

Jakubu: Tumueterere guku kana? (Should we wait here for you?)

Musa: Tondu uyu ni utuku witu wa muico Kangema tuguthie Galano’s tuthunguthe kidogo. Tucoke tucoke guku toro, arafu rucio thaa ikumi cia rucini tugiukira tugakora ngari njeru haha nja wa nyumba, ngari theru itarethwo ni thirikari, tuingire na tuanjie afresh. (Seeing as how this is our last night in Kangema, we’ll hook up at Galano’s, dance a little and have some fun, then we’ll come back here for the night. Tomorrow at 04:00h when we get up, we will find a clean car that isn’t wanted by the police, we’ll get in and drive off to a new start.)

They smile at each other in a celebratory fashion and Njambi lifts up a bone she has in hand to propose a toast.

Njambi: Kiambiriria kieru. (To a new beginning.)

Everyone finds a bone from the tray and they all ‘click’ to the toast, laughing happily –

Everybody: Kiambiriria kieru. (To a new beginning.)

As Njambi laughs and allows herself to be cradled on Musa’s chest, her eyes glitter because she knows that when she looks back on this day years later, she’ll remember it as one of the best days of her life. The day when she was actually happy, when Musa was beside her, happy, and when she knew that those boys were her family and they were all happy.

Mathioya River; Mihuti Area

Gitugi Ward; Mathioya Division

Murang’a District

20:30h

A group of twenty three young men between the ages 15 – 22, are seated around a big fire chanting. There are two dead goats, machetes, gourds, bones and two guns.

Mathioya River roars noisily beside them –

Musa and Njambi are approaching them slowly, crouching in the dark each holding an Ak-47 rifle. The couple advances on the outlawed sect slowly, their rifles at the ready.

Njambi: (Whispering) Wina ma natumanine turi eri ii? (You are sure we can kill them just the two of us, right?)

Musa: Twaremwo at least tugukua tukiruaga. (If we go down, at least we go down fighting.)

Njambi is excited. Though the fire is still a distance away, the yellow dancing flames reflect in her eyes as they shine brightly. Musa is watching her closely as if he is seeing her for the first time.

Musa:  Wi muthaka. (You are beautiful.)

She kisses him then –

Njambi: Tuthii wira. (Let’s get to work)

Musa and Njambi are professionals. The members of the sect don’t see them coming. One second they are chanting, the next the couple is standing close shooting them indiscriminately.

Njambi is holding her rifle in both hands firing at the boys. Her lower lip is in her mouth and her face is set in concentration.

Musa sees her so serious and pauses his shooting for a second to admire and smile, then gets back to it.

One by one, the boys fall. Some stand to run but bullets sink into their back as the couple fire and fire and fire and fire…

They run out of ammunition, reload and continue firing – until all the boys are dead.

It is dead silent but for the roaring river and the crackling fire. On the ground are 23 bodies of the Mungiki sect members and the mutilated, mangled remains of Corporal Mbugati.

A stream of blood flows into Mathioya River staining it red.

The couple grabs Sergeant Lumbasi’s body from the boot of the get away car to where all other bodies lie in a disorganized fashion. They dump her body on the ground carelessly and stand aside to admire their handiwork.

Musa: Riu twatiga ngari haha gugutuika imwana ici ni cio cinyarirete Kangema yothe. (When we leave the car, it will be said that these boys are the ones who have been terrorizing the entire Kangema.)

They smile at what they suppose is the plan’s ingenuity.

Galano’s Nightclub; Kangema Town

Sunday. February 6, 2000

20:48h

There is loud dancehall music of the turn of the millennium, booming in the club from huge speakers. The Beenie Man, Sean Paul, TOK and Wayne Wonder kind of music that is the love of the clubs these days.

It’s loud, it’s booming and there are lots of patrons, dancing, drinking. It’s crowded, it’s loud, it’s stuffy and it’s smoky.

At one of the semi lit corners of the club on long and curved “L” shaped leather couch sits Murefu, Jakubu, Saimo and Kirui.

There are tens of empty beer bottles on the table in front of them and they are talking and laughing loud. Musa and Njambi elbow their way past the crowded club heading for the gang.

Jakubu is already tipsy and when he sees them, he grins from ear to ear, stands up and spreads out his arms to hug them. As he bear hugs his younger brother –

Jakubu: Ii muru wa maitu? Ona ndigugiciragia mwanjiriirie mitugo miaganu na miiri yene. (Hi brother. I was beginning to think you were getting naughty with the bodies.)

Njambi blushes slightly but regains a straight and firm face when Jakubu turns his attention to her.

Njambi: Ti ithui othe tukoragwo na mitwe miuru. (Not all of us are sick in the head.)

Jakubu laughs as he makes as if to hug her but she backs away. In the meantime, Musa has shaken hands with the rest of the very cheerful gang and Saimo has offered him a place between himself and Kirui.

Njambi:  Njeherera njikare thi. (Back off, I want to sit.)

Jakubu: Tutingikorwo arata o umuthi tu ma? (Can’t we be friends just this once please?)

Njambi: Ambe ugie hakiri. (You’d need to be a lot smarter first.)

Jakubu: Kuma umuthi ningucigia. (I’ll start today.)

Njambi: Njira atiriri, nikii gitumire Musa aguthece na kahiu? Na ndukanjire ati ni tondu ni uratuhenirie ati wi muruaru niguo wihithe wira tondu macio ni maheni. (Tell me then, why Musa stabbed you and don’t tell me that it’s coz you lied to us that you were sick so you wouldn’t go to work coz that’s a lie.)

He looks at her like, ‘don’t make me answer that’ but she counters him with a, ‘I must know’ look.

Jakubu: Reke ndigakuire umuthi, no ni ngugu confirmira ati gitumi kiria Musa amuheire ni kia maheni. (Let me not tell you the reason today but i’ll confirm that the reason Musa told you was a lie.)

Njambi: Ni we uhitirie kana niwe? (Were you the one in the wrong or was it him?)

Jakubu: Ni nii. (It was me.)

Njambi: No ti ihitia ugucokera ringi? (It’s not a mistake you’ll make again?)

Jakubu: Ndikaricokera. (I won’t make it again.)

She smiles curtly at him and he smiles back. She falls into his arms and they hug amidst clapping, cheering and hollering from the rest of the happy gang.

A waitress swings by their table to pick up the empty bottles and –

Musa: (To the waitress) Rehera o mundu raundi ingi. (Another round for everyone.)

The girl collects the empties and slides off to bring the orders.

Musa then motions Murefu to lean closer and when Murefu does, he says into his ear –

Musa: Ta thie muthunguthange na Njambi na mucunge hatigatuguge muriu haha, turikie biacara na Kirui. (Take Njambi to the dance floor and keep an eye out so drunks don’t stagger over to our booth. We want to complete some business with Kirui.)

Murefu obliges him with an affirmative nod, gets on his feet and asks Njambi for a dance with a smile. Jakubu, Musa and Saimo, lean closer to a lively Kirui.

Desmond Kirui: Sichainkia klapu kwa wakati mrefu sasa. (I haven’t been to a club in a long time now.)

The three gangsters are seated comfortably on the couch – with legs sprawled out in front of them like they are at home watching TV on a Sunday afternoon. Kirui sits like them because he thinks it’s cool.

Musa: (To kirui) Ushaiskia ile story ya mfanyikazi na mti ulioangusha majani? (Have you ever heard the story of the worker and the tree which wouldn’t stop shedding leaves?)

Kirui laughs uproariously. He is drunk. They don’t laugh. Instead, they exchange glances like they know something he doesn’t.

Desmond Kirui: Apana. Lakini nataga guisgia saa hii. (Nope. But I want to hear it now.)

Musa: Jamaa alikuwa na mti mrembo sana nyuma ya nyumba yake. Lakini ubaya wa huu mti ulikua kuangusha majani ovyo ovyo kwa hivo jamaa akaajiri mtu kazi ya kuwa anafagia yale majani kila asubuhi. Mfanyikazi akawa kazi yake ni kufagia yale majani kila uchao, miaka nenda miaka rudi. Ikafikia siku moja akaona Loh! Si ingekuwa jambo nzuri kama mwenye mti angeukata tu ili uache kuangusha yale majani na kuchafua pale nyuma ya nyumba? Kwa hivo mfanyikazi kenda moja kwa moja hadi kwa jamaa na akwambia ingekuwa tu rahisi ule mti ukapata kukatwa tu. Sawa na jamaa akamsikiza mfanyikazi wake na ule mti akaukata. Kesho yake mfanyikazi kuja kazini jamaa akamwambia, “Loh! Kazi yako hapa kesha isha kwani mti nilishaukata ndio ule wauona. Na kama uonavyo pia majani hauangushi tena.” (A man had a very beautiful tree in his backyard but the tree shed its leaves everyday. This was a problem. So the man employed a worker whole sole job was to sweep the leaves every morning. The worker did his job, day in day and years went by. Then one day the worker felt that it might be a great idea if the man just cut the tree down, that way there would be no leaves all over the backyard. So he shared his sentiment with the man who listened to him and cut the tree. The following morning the worker reported for duty as usual and the man told him, ‘Lo. Your job here is done for as you can see, the tree is gone and there are no more leaves on the ground.)

The fact that Kirui laughs till tears flow from his eyes is a sure indication that he is totally drunk. The gangsters are just watching him like he is acting weird. Thinking that probably the joke in their own story has escaped them, he seeks to explain it –

Desmond Kirui: Hamuoni fenye ni funny. Huyu mchinka alichifuta kas yeye mwenyewe. (Don’t you see how funny it is? The fool fired himself.)

Musa: Inaoneka ivo, si ndio? (It appears so doesn’t it?)

Desmond Kirui: (Wiping tears of laughter off his eyes) Ee. Wewe ni funny Musa. (Yes. You are a funny man Musa.)

Musa: (Grave faced) Ah. Basi niruhusu niendelee kuwa funny. Kuna huyu askari mmoja aliahidi kuprotect hawa wezi ikiwa nao watampa pesa na waondoe wezi wengine wote. Siku moja, mmoja wa wafanyikazi wa huyo askari, akaua… (Ah. Then surely you will allow me to be even funnier. There was this cop who promised to protect this gang as long as they paid him and ran all other gangs out of town. One day, one of his workers killed…)

Suddenly, Kirui sees where Musa is going with this and the laughter is gone.

Desmond Kirui: Ona. Sikuchua Mpugati alikua anafikiri nini. Lakini si mlisha lipisha kisasi? (I didn’t know what was on Mbugati’s mind. But didn’t you already have your revenge?)

He is scared now especially after Saimo and Jakubu get uncomfortably close to him.

Musa: Muislamu akiiba, sheria zao zinasema akatwe mkono. Mtu akiniambia atafanya kitu kasha ashindwe, sheria zangu zinasema akatwe ulimi. (If a Muslim person steals, their law directs that his hand be cut off. If a person fails to keep their promises to me, my laws dictate i cut off their tongue.)

On the dance floor, Murefu and Njambi are dancing, making sure nobody interrupts the gang. Jakubu punches Kirui in the stomach hard pushing air out of him, then chokes him.

Saimo pries Kirui’s mouth open and Musa produces a pair of pliers from his pocket and also his penknife.

Musa: (To Saimo) Mugucie rurimi na buraithi. (Pull out his tongue with pliers.)

Although Desmond Kirui is fighting – and real hard – he is no much for the younger gangsters. Jakubu is squeezing his throat real hard forcing him to open him mouth for a forced breather. When he opens it, Saimo jabs the pliers into his mouth, grabs the tongue and pulls it out.

Musa cuts it off with his penknife.

Musa: (As he cuts) Unafaa kunishukuru kwa maana sasa unastand chance kubwa ya kuingia binguni bila kudanganyana. (You should be thanking me. I have just increased your chances of going to heaven seeing as how you will not be lying anymore.)

There is a glass half full of beer on the table. That is where Kirui’s tongue goes. Once it is cut, they all release him and he bends over coughing and choking on his blood and trying to regain his breath.

Musa:  (As Kirui reacts to his tongue getting cut) Unadhani kuna mtu kwa hii club yote atarealize kuna mtu amekufia apa kwa hii meza? (Do you think there is anyone in this club who will notice that there is someone lying dead at this table?)

They look around the noisy and smoky nightclub. Everyone in there is minding their own business. Musa then stabs Kirui in the stomach multiple times and when he is sure Kirui is out of it, he slams his head on the table and the gang slowly eases out of the club one by one, without even looking over their shoulders.

In their act of leaving without looking back, they don’t see Kirui’s body shudder as he coughs back to consciousness.

He takes his head off the bloody table and struggles to chuck his phone out of his pocket. His hands are shaking so bad – and his eyelids just can’t seem to stay open.

Phone is in shaking hand.he drafts a message. “Musa’s Gang in Nyagatugu. Ask for Kimachia homestead.

He selects contacts and with the last bit of energy in his body, he sends it to ‘Muchina.’ He lets his phone falls off his weak fingers and it clatters onto the floor, dismantling into bits.

His head is heavy and so are his eyelids. He shuts his eyes for a second and finds himself in a dark and silent world – a darkness and silence he finds comforting but lonely. He opens his eyes to a world where he is in a club, cold, in pain, surrounded by noise and smoke.

He closes his eyes some more and relishes the comfort of the dark and silent world. A world more preferable to the noisy one where he is a corrupt cop. He chooses the silence and the welcoming darkness.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Here seated on my plastic kenpoly sit thinking bout how muchina’s gonna do it,,lest y’all forget charles gon make sure muchina pins em all on the wall

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