E for Electric

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(This story is fiction. Names of people, places, things blah blah, used herein are coincidental and used in a purely fictitious fashion.)

Garden Estate, Nairobi.

Saturday,

September 22nd, 2018

06:02 h

“The only reason we fucked last night was because I was high.”

I am up and it is one of those mornings where I wake up and feel like I didn’t sleep at all. I roll over in bed and feel something, someone by my side. Opening my eyes a crack, I see her tender face hidden behind her hair and release a deep sigh. It is going to be one of those mornings.

Me: Hi

I shake her up gently and she groans, brushes the hair off her face, sees me and smiles. It is one of those tender smiles that lovers exchange first thing in the morning right before leaning in for a kiss.

Her: Hi.

Me: I am sorry sweetie but I need you to leave.

Her: (Frowns) What time is it?

Me: Six in the morning.

Her: Well, it is Saturday and I was thinking we could sleep in, wake up later, have a morning glory, maybe breakfast in bed?

She still has that hopeful smile on her face; a smile I want nothing more than to smack away. To make matters worse, she predictably leans in for that kiss and it takes every ounce of energy in me to not push her away.

Me: We ain’t fucking again. And the only reason we fucked last night was because I was high.

Her: (Still smiling) Well, sex is a dish best served while high, isn’t it?

Me: That’s your way throwing a compliment?

Her: It could be if you want it to be.

She leans over me and grabs the packet of cigarettes from the bedside table, and a lighter.

Her: (Lighting up) You mind?

Me: You have already lit it up, so I guess, ‘fuck whether I mind’?

Her: Somebody’s in a mood.

Me: Look, yesterday I was high, younger, hornier and obviously, dumber. Today I am sober, older, not horny and smarter. And I need to be alone.

For the first time since she woke up, the smile vanishes. She blows a cloud of smoke all over my bedroom.

Her: You know, this whole idea was yours.

Me: Like I said, I was younger and hornier. But thanks for the shag. It wasn’t one of the best I have ever had, but it wasn’t one of my worst either.

For a second there I think she will crash the cigarette out in my eyeball but she doesn’t. Instead, she takes another deep drag, appears to be deep in thought there for a second, blows the smoke out and gets off the bed.

She has the kind of body nobody but a goddess is allowed to have. If these bodies were being sold, only the super richest could afford one as glorious as hers. And yet, I cannot stand being naked with her unless I’m seeing double because I am too high to care who I shag.

Me: We have a session next Friday. Don’t be late.

Her: Fuck you Electric.

Me: Nah. That won’t be happening again.

Her: This is so unprofessional, you know. I should report you to the Medical Practitioners Board or something. They must have an ethics committee over there.

Me: You look so cute when you are threatening me.

Her: I am not joking. Psychiatrists are not supposed to sleep with their patients.

Me: Well, it would be your word against mine. Anyway, go ahead. To be honest, I don’t really care.

Sixteen Hours Earlier

Community Area, Nairobi.

September 21st, 2018.

14:02h

“Parenthood is like an investment.”

She is seated on the couch where all my patients sit and I am seated on a chair facing her.

Me: How have you been?

Her: Good. You?

Me: Tell me more about this, “Good”.

Her: (Soft chuckle) What is there to tell? Good is, good. You know?

Me: How is it going with your dad? Have you guys talked lately?

Her: Yeah. He called.

Me: OK?

Her: We talked.

Me: OK?

Her: And he hang up. That is basically how phone calls work, right?

Me: What did you guys talk about?

Her: Well, last time we talked, I told him I would call him back in a few minutes but I forgot. So he was a little upset about that.

Me: How did that make you feel?

Her: What?

Me: Him being upset?

Her: Nothing! It sounded like a ‘him’ problem to me. If he was so upset about me not calling him back, he should have picked up the fucking phone and called me sooner.

Me: Don’t you think he is trying though? Considering you guys only talk when he calls?

Her: You know, I used to feel guilty about not wanting to call him. I am his ‘little girl’ and little girls are supposed to be good with their dads, right? But every time I called him, it would all feel so obligatory. Our conversations would feel forced and every time I hang up, I would find myself feeling like, “Phewks! That’s done. Now I don’t have to talk to him for another two weeks.” It felt like a job talking to him.

Me: And now?

Her: Well, now I don’t even bother calling. And every time he calls, whining about how I never call, I feel irritated. I find him so entitled. Parenthood is like an investment. You invest time and money and effort into the relationship with your child and when the child is grown, he or she will be there for you too, not out of obligation, but because you have that kind of a relationship. But my dad was never there for me growing up and him feeling like I should be there for him now just because I am his daughter drives me nuts.

Me: Have you tried telling him this?

Her: What? Are you crazy?

A buzzer on my desk goes off.

Me: Our time is up for today, but I want you to go and think about it.

Her: About what?

Me: You telling your dad exactly how you feel.

Her: I have thought about it just now and I am sure it’s not something I want to do.

Me: Look, you have major daddy issues, OK? And you’re extending this aloofness to him to other parts of your life. You need to confront this monster because you can see it now.

She is on her feet, her heels sinking into the carpet, her skirt suit clinging to her body, her face a work of art, created by an artist who was not in a hurry at all.

Her: Been meaning to ask, you married?

Me: (Smiles) Been meaning to say, if you have some time, we could go out, have a few cocktails, see how it goes.

Garden Estate, Nairobi.

Saturday,

September 22nd, 2018

07:12 h

She might be gone now, but the smell of her perfume is all over the house. She has left traces of her on my pillows, my sheets, even the flipping walls smell like her.

The Weeknd’s “Call Out My Name” plays, the blue themed music video shedding a shade of blue in my dark living room.

So call out my name (call out my name, baby)
So call out my name when I kiss you
So gently, I want you to stay (I want you to stay)
I want you to stay even though you don’t want me
Girl, why can’t you wait? (Girl, why can’t you wait ’til I-)
Girl, why can’t you wait ’til I fall out of loving?
Babe, call out my name (say call out my name, baby)
Girl, call out my name, and I’ll be on my way, girl
I’ll be on my
On my way, all the way

There is a spot on the wall between my bedroom and the living room where there is a dot of blood. Just a tiny spot where, one evening a four months ago, I crashed a mosquito and she almost shed tears over it. She was still in my life then. No, not the girl I have just kicked out. Another one. Fucking Ashanti.

I stand in front of the bloody spot on the wall and run a finger on it, flashes of Ashanti, crossing my mind with the speed of light. They are so clear, so forceful that I have to retract my finger from the wall with a gasp as if it is hot, lest they knock me down.

Last Year (Somewhere around July)

21:00h

20th Century (IMAX)

Nairobi CBD

“Ashanti. Fuckin’ Ashanti “

We met last year at a movie theater of all places. She sat next to me as we watched The Mummy together. A boring Tom Cruise movie that has since made it to my “Shittiest Films of All Time” list. But I had fun watching it because she sat next to me and squeezed my hand at every jump scare; I found myself wishing there were more jump scares in the movie, or at least, it came with a longer runtime. But if wishes were horses…

After the movie, she smiled at me and offered an apologetic “Sorry.”

Me: Why?

Her: For grabbing your hand like that. It must have distracted you from the movie.

Me: Ah, it wasn’t that great a movie anyway.

Her: Are you for real? It was like, the greatest thing I have ever seen on the big screen.

Me: Oh honey, who are your friends?

Her: (Laughs) What is that supposed to mean?

Me: Be my friend, and I guarantee your definition of ‘the greatest thing I have ever seen on the big screen’ will change significantly.

Together, we walked out of the theatre, her leading me. Our hands touched again as we put the 3D glasses back into the tray. Hers were cold and I wanted to hold them again, put some warmth into them but she was already halfway down the dark staircase by the time my glasses were in the tray.

She headed for the ladies and I followed her there, partly because I was pressed and partly because I wanted to kiss her.

Me: So what is your name?

I asked as we stood at the sinks and touched up on our makeup.

Her: Ashanti.

Me: Like the singer?

Her: No. (She rubbed her lips together to fix the lipstick) Like me.

Me: I am Electric.

Her: (Smile) You are electric? Like, you can conduct electricity like a spoon or Storm from the X-Men movies?

Me: No.

Since I was done with my makeup, I moved aside to make way for someone else to use the mirror and stood by the door, waiting for Ashanti to be done.

Me: I am not electric as in, in character; I am Electric as in that is my name.

Her: Like a nickname?

She turned around and faced me, waiting.

Me: No. My parents were young when they had me. Explains the name and other weird habits they had.

Her: Well, (she faced the mirror again and smiled into it.) I am not saying it is not a very unusual name, but I like it.

Me: Yeah. Me too. Hey, do you have plans after the movie?

Her: Yeah. I was thinking of having a glass or two of wine. Why?

Me: Can we have that together?

She put her makeup kit back into the bag, took one last look of herself in the mirror, turned around and flashed another smile. She had the most honest smile I had ever seen.

Her: Your boyfriend won’t mind?

Me: If he existed, he would mind, and that, I think, would be a hell of a turn on.

I thought I was done, but something hit me as an afterthought and I asked fast before she could reach the door.

Me: Will yours mind?

Her: Why don’t we go have that wine? Figure it out as we go.

Driving to a wine bar along Limuru Road, she switched on the radio just as Kygo’s, Selena Gomez’s “It Ain’t Me” was starting and a whoop and a genuine, “God! I love this song!” escaped my lips. She was behind the wheel, but she cast me a side glance.

Me: What?

Her: Nothing.

Me: Yeah right. (I chuckled) Come on, tell me.

Her: It’s cheesy.

Me: What is?

Her: Me. I just don’t like it when people call God’s name in vain.

Me: I didn’t call God’s name, did I?

Her: Yes you did. (She gripped the wheel with both hands, hard.) I am sorry I said it. I know it’s not a big deal and all but… (Shrug)

Me: It’s OK. I understand and respect it, OK? (Added with a reassuring smile) I promise.

She shot me another side glance and bit her lip, her face beaming with that smile. Then she reached out and pumped up the volume just as Selena was singing;

I had a dream,

We were back to seventeen,

Summer night and the Libertines,

Never growing up,

I will take with me, the Polaroids and the memories,

But you know I am going to leave behind the worst of us.

We rolled the windows down and sang along to the music, the wind in our hair, our hands flying to the beats and the chorus and I had an evening I never thought I would have, or deserved my entire life.

Garden Estate, Nairobi.

Saturday,

September 22nd, 2018

08:32 h

“I found peace in your violence.”

To be honest, I don’t remember why I punched the wall. I used to do a lot of stupid things back then. I still do them now, but I had stopped for a moment there.

As Marshmello and Khalid’s “Silence” plays from the living room, I take a shower; one of my typical long ones that I hope will cleanse me. Clean me off all my sins, make me new… I cry a lot in the shower, but I am determined not to today.

If I were a singer, maybe one day I would sing a song called “Every Girl Cries in the Shower” sort of like Xxxtentacion’s “Everybody Dies in Their Dreams”, because to be honest, it is while I am naked, with the hot water punishing my skin, that I feel the weight of all my actions and play the videos of my life in my head like a movie in a theater.

But all I can do now is sing along to “Silence” and let the water soak my skin and maybe, just maybe, wash away the judgment one of these days, before its hold on my throat chokes me back into the monster that I know I can be.

I’m in need of a savior, but I’m not asking for favors.

My whole life, I’ve felt like a burden,

I think too much and I hate it,

I’m so used to being in the wrong, I’m tired of caring,

Loving never gave me a home, so I’ll sit here in the silence.

I have never been a prayerful person, but sometimes, when there is an entire cocktail of feelings inside me, I kneel beside my bed, close my eyes and mumble a prayer.

“God, or whatever your name is these days, I am about to commit another murder. I pray that he doesn’t kill me before I kill him, but should he have the drop on me, I pray you have some space for what’s left of my soul, up there in the land of milk, honey and hopefully, music. I cannot live without music. Amen.”

Sarova Stanley Hotel.

Kimathi Street, Nairobi.

Saturday,

September 22nd, 2018

09:46 h

“The Bitch With The Biggest Gun on the Block.”

I miss the good old days when a girl could just enter a hotel with a gun, shoot somebody and walk out. Life was easier then, but that was before the religious nut jobs started blowing everybody up for some dogmatic reasons.

Now, I cannot enter this place with a gun, as the security machines would scream into my ears until I’m deaf. Unarmed, I take the stairs to the seventh floor.

When I knock on the door to the room where my interest lies, his bodyguard answers. You know you have the right person when they start coming with bodyguards. Cliché, but that doesn’t mean it is not a fact.

Bodyguard: Yes?

Me: (Polite smile) Hi.

Bodyguard: What do you want?

Me: Is your boss in there?

Bodyguard: (Frustrated sigh) One last time; what do you want?

Me: I want to have a word with Kentan.

Bodyguard: About what?

Me: Honey, I think that is way above your pay grade. Please let me in, because your boss will not be so happy with you if I leave.

Bodyguard: Who are you?

Me: Electric. (He scowls, maybe thinking I am joking.) Do you need me to spell it for you?

He closes the door and I hear two voices booming away in the room before the door opens again and the bodyguard’s head pops out.

Bodyguard: Come on in.

As soon as I am in the room, he pats every inch of my body, in a manner to suggest that he particularly enjoys this part of his job. Feeling bodies for weapons. When I come up clean, he nods me further into the room.

Kentan, the guy I am here about, is standing in front of the glass door partitioning the room from the balcony. He has loosened his tie as if he has just come from having a long day and is preparing to take it off and jump in the shower.

Kentan: (Excited) Electric! So good to finally meet you in person.

Me: You sure about that Kentan?

Kentan: You are a legend in this side of the world.

Me: You know, I never really liked that word. Legend. Makes me feel like a corpse.

Kentan: Well, that can be arranged.

I am standing in the middle of the big room, my shoes sinking into the thick carpet, the bed on my right and the TV on my left. Kentan is in front of me and his bodyguard is right behind me.

Me: I don’t know. I think I like it just fine here on earth. I feel like we should shake hands or something.

Kentan: I heard you were retired.

Me: I was.

Kentan: What changed? The ranch and the horses and the big house inside a perimeter wall weren’t enough for you?

Me: I found it too, oh, how do I say this without sounding like a condescending bitch? ‘Boring.’ I found it excruciatingly boring.

Kentan: And now you are here to kill me?

Me: And now I am here to kill you.

Behind me, his bodyguard has a gun in his hands. Kentan pockets and sighs, then moves closer to me.

Kentan: Can I fix you anything? A cup of coffee? Or maybe get you something from the fridge?

Me: Coffee would be nice.

He waves me to the bed.

Him: Have a seat. (As he adds some water into the kettle) You know, I have heard a million things about you Electric. But when Malik and Amina died, I figured you had decided to quit the game.

Me: Well, their deaths did change a few things, sure, but as long as human beings exist, contract killers like me will always roam the earth.

Him: As we wait for your coffee to be ready, you mind telling me who sent you?

Me: Oh I will. But not yet.

Him: Why not?

Me: As soon as I put a bullet in your chest, I will squat beside your heaving body, watch the lights ebb out of your eyes and then, and only then, will I whisper that into your ear.

Him: You seem pretty confident for an unarmed girl in a room with two armed men.

Me: You said you’ve heard about me?

Him: Don’t let it go to your head.

Me: Then you’ve heard what they call me.

Him: The bitch with the biggest gun on the block.

The water is boiling in the kettle behind him.

Me: Looks like it’s time for that coffee. Good thing, I didn’t have some this morning.

Him: (Chuckles and wags a finger at me) You know I will beat that answer from you before I kill you, right?

Me: Can we have that coffee already? Always found it distasteful to talk about violence over coffee.

He serves the coffee for the both of us, then pulls a chair and seats facing me. His bodyguard ensures the gun is in his hand at all times, ready to use should I make any sudden moves.

Kentan: I am curious. How do you plan on killing me today?

Me: I don’t have a plan. (Sips coffee) I am sort of winging it.

Him: I doubt that very much.

Me: Hey, can I ask you something?

Him: Anything.

Me: You’ve been married three times, right?

Him: And divorced thrice too, in case you are interested in postponing this murder plan you have against me indefinitely and becoming my fourth wife.

Me: Shouldn’t you take me out first?

Him: As in kill you?

Me: No. As in take me out on a date.

Him: Oh. No!

Me: Ouch.

Him: Don’t get me wrong. I just don’t believe in dates and all that shit anymore. I prefer to get to the point.

Me: The point being?

Him: Let’s shag then take it from there. The shag is like the mud you throw against the wall. If it sticks, we could have something real. If it doesn’t, well, there will always be the shag.

Me: How has that worked out for you?

Him: I shag a lot.

Me: That you say that with that disappointment in your voice means you should probably come up with another strategy.

Him: So is this your plan? Bore me to death with chatter?

Me: Now that you have been married thrice, do you feel like all those people that enter your life and then leave, leave with a part of you?

Him: How are you enjoying your coffee?

Me: I have to say, it is not the worst I have ever had. Not the best, but certainly not the worst.

Him: Who sent you? And I know you came here with a plan.

Me: Can I use the bathroom?

Him: No.

Me: One of us is dying in this room in a few minutes. Considering I am the unarmed one, chances are it’ll be me. From experience, I know that when people die, their muscles relax and they pee and shit themselves. If it is all the same with you, I would very much love to be a pretty corpse.

He turns to the bodyguard and asks for the gun. This, he stands up and covers me with it while he instructs the guard to check the toilet for any weapons.

Me: What? You think I had somebody hide a gun for me in the bathroom?

Him: I have watched The Godfather. And I have a feeling that you have too.

The bodyguard turns that toilet upside down; comes out clean. “There is nothing here boss.” But that doesn’t stop Kentan from giving the guard the gun and instructing him to stand at the door and watch me pee.

Me: Ever heard of the Me Too Movement Kentan?

Him: Oh honey, don’t flatter yourself.

This is another part of the job that, I think, the guard enjoys. Standing at the door, his eyes fixed on me as I do my business. He has a problem deciding where to rest his eyes. On my pants around my ankles, on my face, my thighs…

Me: It won’t come out if you stand there and watch.

Guard: Sounds like a you problem to me.

So I help him. I take my pants off completely, fold them carefully and place them next to the mirror beside me.

Guard: What are you doing?

Me: I like being comfortable as I pee.

I part my legs just a little bit wider and his eyes make a transfer to my inner thighs. Then he catches himself and looks away quickly, embarrassed that he looked, and saw. But that is all the time I need to quickly push myself up and ram an open fist onto his throat.

The trachea, situated on the throat, is a sensitive part of the human body. If you hit it hard enough, the victim ends up choking.

As he reels backwards, trying to point the gun at me while panicking because he cannot breathe, I place a well aimed kick to his groin, grab his gun with both hands and twist it. It breaks his finger as I yank the gun from his hand and knock him out with it, with a well placed smash on the back of his head.

Then I enter the room where Kentan is waiting, watching me. He is standing in the middle of the room, his eyes shifting between me and a briefcase on the bed.

Kentan: Was that your plan all along? Use the power of the boner against the boner holder?

Me: I told you. I had no plan. Just winging it.

Him: What now?

Me: You know ‘what now’.

Him: I guess there are worse ways to go, worse people to be killed by.

Me: You keep telling yourself that.

I walk to the bed and grab a pillow.

Him: You know those things don’t muffle the sound of a gunshot, right?

Me: Actually, they do. Not by much, but they help.

Him: So I guess we will not be having that shag after all.

Me: I am sorry sweetie.

He is not standing too far away when I place the pillow in front of the gun and fire a single shot in his direction. It hits him on the chest and sends him falling on his back.

As he lies there, bleeding out, I squat beside him and look him in the face. He has the look everyone gets when something like this happens to them. He looks surprised, as if he cannot believe that his day is finally here.

I whisper the name of the person who sent me to him, place the pillow on his face and pull the trigger again and his limbs relax.

I enter the bathroom where I put my pants back on and wipe the gun clean of my fingerprints. I place it back in the unconscious bodyguard’s hand, wipe my cup clean of my fingerprints too and when I am sure the room looks like I was never here, I let myself out.

Ruaka (Almost Nairobi)

Saturday,

September 22nd, 2018

11:17h

“I am sorry my relationship with God is more complicated…”

I am constantly trapped between, “you have to fight for something you think is worth it” and “you have to stop doing this to yourself and move on.” Because the former has been on a winning streak for a while there, it is why I am standing outside Ashanti’s door, waiting for her to answer.

She finally opens the door, the last webs of sleep still assaulting her face. She looks at me through squinted eyes, her full lips set and I cannot remember the last time I saw a smile on her. I used to make her smile all the time.

Her: How did you get past the gate?

Me: Hi Electric, it’s so good to see you. Oh, hi Ashanti, it’s so lovely to see you too. God, you look amazing!

Her: You know you are not supposed to be here. And you know I hate it when you call God’s name in vain.

Me: But I don’t want to be anywhere else Ash.

Her: Sounds like a you problem to me.

Me: (Bewildered chuckle) Wow.

Sure that stings, but I came to her, so I take the punch and keep digging deeper into this hole.

Me: Hey urm, (rubs my head; I already know what the answer will be) hey, can I come in?

Her: No.

Me: Then take a walk with me?

Her: I have places to be Electric and honestly, I don’t want to keep doing this

Me: Doing what?

Her: (Points at me and her continuously) This. It is tiring.

Me: But you are not doing anything. I am the only one here, the only doing… oh God, what am I even doing?

Her: (Rolls her eyes) There you go again with the…

Me: I am sorry Ash, Ok? Is that what you want to hear? I am sorry I call God’s name in vain a lot! I am sorry I am not in love with the Bible as much as you, I am sorry I don’t lead a perfectly little life with perfect little people who will do anything for me, I am sorry my relationship with God is more complicated that yours with Him and for fuck’s sake baby, I am sorry you think I am this trash that is out to change you into a horrible person, but I swear, I swear to the Most Fucking High God, I was trying. I was changing because, I was down for this. I was down for you and I would have done anything, anything, to make this work; but you didn’t even give me a fucking chance.

Eight Months Ago

Tuesday,

January 9th, 2018.

18:10h

Garden Estate, Nairobi.

“Stop saying you love me”

Ashanti and I are in the kitchen, fixing a meal together. There is something about our kitchen moments together that feel whole. Like this is the only place where we operate with utmost freedom, vulnerability and honesty.

In the living room, Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa’s “Scared to be Lonely” is playing at a low volume. “It was great at the very start, Hands on each other, Couldn’t stand to be far apart, Closer the better.” And when the chorus rolls around, Ashanti hums along.

Is it just our bodies? Are we both losing our minds?

Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight

‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely?

Do we need somebody just to feel like we’re alright?

Is the only reason you’re holding me tonight

‘Cause we’re scared to be lonely?

My phone, seated on the kitchen counter, lights up with the name “Ares” on the screen. Ashanti gets to it first and asks,

Her: Who is Ares?

My heart thumps, my tongue slurs for want of a quick lie to the only person in this world that I have never lied to and to buy time, I chuckle.

Me: It’s the God of War.

Her: (Light laugh) Why is the god of war calling you?

Me: Because I am a soldier baby.

I take the vibrating phone from her hands, kiss her lightly on the lips and again on the forehead, and spank her on my way out of the kitchen, to answer the phone.

Me: Hello Ares.

Ares: I have a job for you.

Me: Ares, been meaning to call you.

I look over my shoulder to see if Ashanti is anywhere close, but she is not. I can hear her humming away in the kitchen, cooking and cutting stuff up.

Me: I am out of the game.

Ares: Yes, Athena did mention that, I just chose not to believe her.

Me: You should have.

Ares: The money is good.

Me: It always is. But (I look over my shoulder again. The coast is still clear. I hiss into the phone) I don’t want to kill people anymore.

Ares: Why? Because you have found love?

Me: You don’t have to be so condescending about it.

Ares: I have half a mind to throw a wrench into the whole thing. Make you come crawling back to us. You know we don’t like losing our best soldiers.

Me: I never was a soldier.

Ares: Uh yes. You were but a psychologist with a dark side. Like your patients. Electric?

Me: Yeah?

Ares: If she knew who you really are, do you think she would accept you? Do you think she would be in your kitchen, in your blue t-shirt and white panties, cooking, if she knew who, what you really are?

I dash across the living room and out to the balcony, my heart thumping, my mouth running dry – he is watching.

Me: If you do anything…

Ares: I could do something. I could kill her. And you wouldn’t do a thing because there is no longer a Council of Killers and Assassins for you to report to. Malik and Amina made sure of that. But I won’t, because when, not if, when, you come calling back to me, I want it to be out of your own volition. Not because I have coerced you back, but because you have finally realized that Athena and myself are the only family you ever had.

Me: I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

Ares: Electric?

Me: Yes?

Ares: She does not love you. She thinks she does, but she does not. She never will.

Me: You done?

Ares: For now.

Me: Goodbye Ares. And lose my number.

Click.

I hold the phone against my ear even though the call is done, and feel the chill running down my body. It is not until the call is done that I realize I can hardly breathe and my knees are buckling under me. There is an evening breeze blowing as the sun sinks behind a cloud in the horizon leaving behind an orange sky, the testament to it finally losing the battle to darkness, albeit for a few hours.

I feel her warm arms circling my waist and her breath on my neck and I tilt my head slightly.

Ashanti: Are you OK?

Maybe it is my insecurities. Maybe it is my excitement about the fact that I am done with killing, not because I have been killed myself or caught and sent to prison, but because I don’t want to do it anymore. And that I have made a clean break. This is something that many in my life never get to see. They think of it, dream of it, but they never leave. They never have a reason to. Maybe I am not excitement about the leaving, but about the fact that I have found a reason to.

Anyway, I turn around and bury myself in her shoulder, squeezing her body against mine with a firm hug, never wanting to let go – and with a voice that betray every emotion I feel right now, I cry into her ear –

Me: I love you.

I have never said that to anyone else.

She holds me tight, my tears wetting her t-shirt, she pats my back and when we cross the living room a few minutes later, we find Martin Garrix and David Guetta’s “So Far Away” playing on TV, the largely red artsy music video lighting up the semi lit living room.

It’s breaking me, losing you

We were far from perfect

But we were worth it

Too many fights, and we cried

But never said we’re sorry

Stop saying you love me

Ruaka (Almost Nairobi)

Back to present

Saturday,

September 22nd, 2018

11:22h

Ashanti: I know this sounds harsh, but I thought you were good when we met. But then I came into your life and you just weren’t.

Me: But what did I do? Was it that time, those times, I uttered God’s name in vain?

Her: It doesn’t matter now. I just didn’t like the person I was becoming by being with you.

Me: But you didn’t even talk to me about it. You just observed in silence, acted like everything was OK, then when you were over me, you jumped ship and left me to drown.

She stays silent and I know I have just ran into a brick wall.

Me: Say something.

Silence. And when she gets silent like this, I keep talking, hoping that I will compel or even provoke her into breaking the silence, but knowing that she won’t.

Me: I might think the Bible is a big hoax. I might think it is a book penned for political reason with the aim of shoving one people’s agenda down another people’s throats because of greed and thirst for power, I might think Christianity and other religions out there promote division and that children should provided with all the information and use that to choose what to believe when they are older, but even in all that, I do believe in not judging people and in treating everybody with love. Isn’t that what your Holy Book says? Love your neighbor and all?

Silence.

Me: Come on. Say something. Why would you believe in a book that preaches hate against you as a queer? Isn’t love, love? Why do there have to be restrictions?

Her: I have to go.

Me: Don’t go.

She has backed up into the house and started closing the door behind her, but I hold onto it, thirsting for one last look at her.

Her: You and I, we are just not compatible. You presented strong arguments and I started believing them and started hating both myself and you for that. I really have to go.

Me: Don’t go.

Her: Don’t you see? I am not leaving now. I left a long time ago.

When my fingers let go off the door, when the cold metal slips through my fingers, I know beyond all doubt, that I will never see her again.

St. Matthew’s Church,

Thika Road – Nairobi

Saturday,

September 22nd, 2018

20:01h

“I have razed the garden where I grew my fucks.”

I am seated inside the confessional when the door to the other cubicle opens and the priest enters, garbed in his purple robes with a rosary hanging around his neck.

Me: Father.

Him: Hello my child.

Me: I am nobody’s child.

Him: That is what we all think in our moments of despair.

Me: This is not a moment of despair. I have not had such a clear head in a long time.

Him: Are you here for confession?

Me: Yes and no.

Him: Shall we start with the ‘yes’ part?

Me: Sure thing.

Him: How long has it been since your last confession?

Me: It’s been a minute.

Him: I am listening.

Me: I slept with my patient last night. Then I kicked her out this morning because I felt like she didn’t deserve to be in the same room as me. I knew her weak points because she pays me to get inside her head and figure out what her problem is, and I used those issues to get laid.

Him: Is that all, my child?

Me: I used to kill people as my side hustle. It was a lucrative side hustle and it was also my form of release. Some people spend time alone to recharge, others drink, others fight, me, I killed people. To be honest, they all deserved to be killed.

Him: It is not in your place to judge.

Me: I know, I know. But as long as people exist, there will always be other people getting paid to kill them. That money might as well be coming to my pocket, right? It was never personal and every person I killed understood that. Anyway, I met this girl and everything changed. I know how much of a cliché this sounds, but, I wanted to be better. For her. For us. So I quit the side gig, became nicer to people, stopped shagging my patients, and I genuinely, for a while there, opened my heart so wide and shared the kind of love even I never thought I had. I gave and gave and never ran out. I never needed to recharge. I was happy for a minute. And I know people say that you don’t need someone to be happy, but I think you do. You actually need someone so that you can be happy. Even Adam, in that Book you people love so much, needed Eve or he was going to go bonkers. People have families, their parents, their siblings, friends who they hold dearer than anything else, and they need these people to be happy. Me, I have never had any of that. See, I was born to young parents who felt like they needed to continue enjoying each other without me getting in the way. So off to boarding school I was sent at the age of seven. While most other people were home building relationships with their families and their friends from that neighborhood, I was in boarding, building relationships with people who I would never again see in my life once school was over. It was heartbreaking losing every friend I had in my life at the age of twelve when I finished that school. Now I had no friends anywhere. And this was before the age of the internet so connection was a little harder. Then came high school and this time, I was not eager to make friends because I knew we would never again meet after school was over. But I did make two friends who I again lost after high school. And now I had to go home to parents who I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. Not really. We had no relationship whatsoever, that wasn’t dictated by biology. And I had no friends at home either because I left that place when I was seven. So home, never really felt like home, you know? And family never felt like family. By the time I started university, I could not connect emotionally with anybody because, well, there was no point, was there? Everybody leaves in the end. Flash forward to the thirty-three year old me. I have been called intelligent, because my parents really wanted me to spend all my time with books, which was another reason why they sent me to boarding school so early. But what I gained in knowledge, I lost in interaction. Father, I have basically spent my entire life, alone. But I met a girl, a girl I could let in and I guess I held on too tight because I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I thought in her I could finally have the family I never had and this time, if I put in the work, if I was an excellent human being, if I followed all the rules and did what I was supposed to do, take her out, buy her chocolate and cake, listen when she talks, notice the little things like how she likes her clothes arranged, be open and honest with her always, then she would never leave. I would have a family for keeps. I even went down on my knees and made a deal with God. “God,” I said, “I will be good, I promise. I will go to church every Sunday, I will tithe, I will dedicate my existence to you and all you have to do, is make sure that Ashanti and I never break up. I will do my part, and you will do yours.” I have to say Father, I held up my end of the bargain. I did everything correct, but while I was busy being good, she was busy holding my opinions against me. Silently judging me, and when she was ready to go, she stopped picking up the phone when I called, she wouldn’t reply to my messages, she just ghosted me like I was nothing. It took me rivers of tears, crying my throat hoarse and embarrassing myself in manners I cringe over every time I think of them, for her to say, “I didn’t agree with your religious views.” And I was like, “Why the fuck didn’t you say something?” I have to say father, that stung. (Sad chuckle and a deep sigh) I let her in and she confirmed my deepest fears. I am trash. And that is why nobody ever wants to be in my life.

Him: You are not trash my child. You are being too harsh on yourself.

Me: I didn’t come here for you to make me feel better Father. I am here because even at my best, I was neither good for Ash nor for God. I came here I have been judged unfairly.

Him: But you yourself said that you have killed people…

Me: I had changed!

Him: I understand your frustration, but so many people have gone through so much worse and come out stronger at the end of it all.

There is that wooden barrier that separates the priest from the person making the confession. I pull it aside such that he and I are not seeing each other clearly.

Me: Don’t you get it Father? I am not “so many people.” I am me.

Him: I guess we have now jumped into the “not a confession” part of the conversation.

Me: That we have.

Him: I know you.

Me: You should. I am the girl Ashanti brought to this church for a while there.

Him: I understand that you feel judged. And unfairly treated…

Me: Father…

Him: Allow me to finish.

Me: No! Allow me to finish! I am done trying to be nice. Ask me what I have done today. Ask me, ‘how was your day my child?’

Him: Why?

Me: Fucking ask me how my fucking day was, Father!

Him: How was your day my child?

Me: Well, I woke up naked beside my patient. I kicked her out unceremoniously, partly because I was in a hurry to go kill somebody and partly because if she stayed, I might have killed her. I swung by Sarova and killed a guy, framed that murder on his bodyguard, then went over to Ashanti’s to embarrass myself one last time. Now ask me why I am here.

Him: Why are you here?

I pull out a gun from my handbag. A 9mm Browning but keep it out of the priest’s sight. I also pull out the silencer and start to screw it in.

Me: I have always been a sinner, Father. I have never been too proud or too arrogant to admit that. But I was ready to change. As a sinner, I was never judged. As a good person, I was judged. I have been watching you Father. You are a good man.

Him: The work of the Lord calls for me to set a good example.

Me: You have set a great example. This entire community looks up to you. The way you have brought poor children into your care, all those people you feed and clothe and educate and ensure they have better lives, God must be so proud of you.

Him: I don’t do it for the promise of eternal life in heaven. I do it because I can and it is the right thing to do.

Me: Good for you Father. If God wanted to destroy Nairobi unless there was one decent person in it, you would be that one decent person.

Him: I thank you, but where are we going with this?

The silencer has been screwed in tight. I stand up and point the gun at him, eliciting a petrified shriek from his lips.

Me: I have been unworthily judged based on the religion you profess, Father.

Him: Wh..what.. what are you doing?

Me: It is time for you to meet God. Hopefully, He will be as good to you as you have been to Him.

Him: You don’t have to do…

My first bullet hits him on the right side of his chest as I say…

Me: In the name of the Father….

He gasps, a look of surprise on his face. Even he, a man who has spent his life good so that when the day finally comes, he will not be afraid of the other side, is surprised. Maybe wondering why God is letting this happen.

I shoot him on the left side of his chest, careful not to hit his heart because I don’t want him dead yet.

Me: And of the son…

He lifts his pained eyes to meet mine and with his last breath says;

Him: Oh child. I forgive you.

Me: (As I plant the last bullet into his forehead, blowing a huge hole out the back of his head and painting the wall with red gore) And of the Holy Spirit. (I kiss my gun as his body slumps on the side.) Amen.

Then I look up at the heavens, my gun in hand, my hands stuck out beside me.

Me: There. Now I have razed the garden where I grew my fucks. Now, I am worthy of all the judgment in the world.

In the car, driving home under the cover of darkness, the radio plays Jess Glynne’s and Rudimental’s “These Days”, a song which prompts me to pump up the volume, roll down the windows and for once in a long time, I am hit with an underlying sense of satisfaction.

I might be drowning in the muck, fighting for survival among the monsters, but I know that this is where I belong. This is where I deserve to be and so I sing along.

Leaving to find my soul

Told her I had to go

And I know it ain’t pretty

When our hearts get broke

Too young to feel this old

Watching us both turn cold

Oh, I know it ain’t pretty

When two hearts get broke

(My book ZOO is still selling. What puts a smile on my face, is what people who have read it have to say about it. Grab a copy, will you? And if you have already grabbed one for yourself, be the cool friend who buys a book for their friends. 🙂

It goes for 900/=

Paybill Number: 762362

Account Number: ZOO

You will also meet any delivery costs. Once you pay, I will have your number and I will call you.)

Photo Credits: Robert Asimba
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7 COMMENTS

  1. Thitima is what the title says. Thitima is what she is. Is what I expected him to be; yes, I thought Electric was male. Chauvinism, maybe.

    I have to go back and reacquaint myself with her. The whole Malik series has been open on my machine for sometime. Over a month I guess. I have had like 50 tabs open. Restored everyday when I start my browser. The chrome browser. It has been one of those moments, so much to read but the block is in place. Locked in place.

    So I will go back and read. Get my life back. And I thought Electric was male until Ash anti didn’t scream being followed into the ladies. That makeup line I thought was sarcasm.

    Now that Ashanti is no longer in the picture, Electric cannot be stopped. Nobody can stop reggae. But I wonder does she live to witness.

  2. I thought Electric was a guy too, so that line about following her to the ladies … I was at IMAX a few days ago to watch ‘Hotel Transylvania’, and at some point I had to rush my date (8yr old nephew) to the ladies. He had protested and wanted to go to the gents, but I convinced him that theirs are combined, ladies+gents together.
    I almost thought I was right

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