CHRONICLES OF A NEW WRITER_23
I coiled back into the car and Alex drove on; either Peter or Eric (at the back), having greeted one of the officers through the window.
On this second leg of the drive to Dandora, none of us spoke. I looked straight on upon the tarmac this night, as it raced backwards underneath our probox, and well into my memory. I thought of my folks in Maili Tisa. Uncle, and his wife—and the seven daughters; of what they might say about me, if they knew, that at this moment, I sat in a car that headed to Dandora to ferry Coke. Of how Joan might wail, if she heard that I enrolled myself into a gang. And thus, the story of Teret shot in my mind; the young man whose father owned a big garage in Eldoret town. The story goes: when Teret joined a university in Nairobi to study Psychology, he studied for the first two semesters then terminated that study business. Some people said he’d traveled abroad to continue his study in a foreign university; but my Uncle’s wife, who fellow-shipped with Teret’s mother, said he did join a gang of robbers in the city, and the police shot him one night in the right thigh, and so he walked with a crutch since.
Then I recalled the story of Debby, which went thus: she left her home, which existed a kilometer from ours, on your way to Eldoret, and she traveled to Nairobi to work as a house-help. She worked for her employer for six months, then one moment, when schools reopened, she thieved twenty thousand shillings, which her boss had entrusted her with, to pay school fees for the son (the employer’s). Her boss, being a rich woman in the city, tracked her with the aid of the police. So Debby had no place else to hide in the city, and she fled to Mombasa. There in Mombasa, the story goes, she joined a nightclub, and danced around a pole for tourists. By and by, a mzungu, the story says, married her, when she’d danced like a snake one night, a deed which impressed the man so. Thereafter, the man bought her a big house in Mtwapa, and furnished it with all the house-things a woman might desire, which Debby saw and knew of, and a load of drugs in one of the cabinets, which Debby never knew of. The tale goes on to relate, how one night, when Debby’s husband had traveled to Nairobi on business, police officers raided Debby’s house, and searched nowhere else but the cabinet with sacks of Coke. The police hauled her and her goods to the station, and while there, she called her husband, but discovered his phone off, and so has it remained since. Nobody knows what happened to Debby afterwards; if she ended in one of the prisons at the coast, or whether she paid a fine for freedom, anybody could guess.
These stories and more; and agitation, swirled in my mind in my silence, so much so that Alex noticed. He touched my hand, but I pushed his away. Silence then followed, as we slowed down, on account of the traffic, as we had reached Dandora; and Alex begun to navigate to its dark outskirts. At a dumpsite we then stopped, and Alex turned off the headlamps; then he, Peter and Eric exited the car, having instructed me to remain inside. A while later, another can drove up the same route we followed, and stopped behind ours, then switched off the lights. What exact place we stopped I couldn’t tell; in front of our car however (what setting I had noticed as we drove in earlier), the dumpsite existed; on one side, a high wall; on the other, a fence of old iron sheets; and darkness everywhere. Away from here, you could see lights twinkling on the buildings yonder, and hear hooting of vehicles and the din from nightclubs.
While seated in the car, I wondered what my role entailed in this transaction, and what I might relate to the police, should they ambush this party, on account of a betrayal, from…from I don’t know whom. At one instant my hand reached the steering wheel, that I might honk with all my fear and might, and thus reveal our hideout, and thereby secure my escape amid the confusion; but my hand froze upon the wheel, when I imagined that such an alarm would startle everybody, and no one ever wants to scare a criminal who placed a finger on a trigger. I was crushed by fear; I was crushed by tension; I was crushed by apprehension, that I began to self-talk:
“O, Taifa. Son of Mkenya, grandson of Mkenya the First. I am a gangster.
“O, Alex, friend in my youth. A brother in all times. You have betrayed me?
“Eh. Alex Matano, son of Matano, when did it start?
“Tell me then, tell me now, tell me how—” I saw flashlights sweep across the darkness.
Occupants of the second car had discharged themselves from it, and I now caught murmurs and grunts. I turned my neck to spy on them, and counted five people in total, as far as I could note, whenever a flashlight blinked, as to illuminate a packet of Coke, or a bundle of cash (which I saw Eric hand the other two fellas at the end of this transaction). At the end of it, I heard the boot of the car fly up, and packets of substance drop in, after which a hand shut the boot close, boop!
My colleagues returned, and entered the car; and this time, Eric Kama would drive. As he ignited the car, he turned to me, under the light in the car, and said, “You are one of us now. You are part of the family. Only death gets you out if it, nothing else.” I understood him well, as he meant that the family possessed the capacity to track me wherever in the country, if I ever should disclose what nature of transaction I witnessed tonight, to any soul. I turned my face away, and out the window, and wept. We left the site first, and had driven for a few minutes, when we perceived a gun shot behind us; and I figured one of the two fellas we’d transacted with, had murdered the other. Alex, Peter and Eric, began to laugh.
#To be continued…
A week goes and languages grow; my stories so.
[The typer of these words is a breaker of English. Creator of words. Attempter of waggish things. Marveler of nature. Enjoyer of life. Lover of strangers. Taster of cultures. Author of Tom James. Editor. Snap-shooter. Storyteller. Future husband. Teacher. Learner. Soon a traveler]