Jackson was looking out of his 13th floor office at the busy traffic below. It had fused to become one long interminable snake movement which broke at some points to show its real character; confusion. On his 29-inch J.V.C flat screen, a cantankerous politician was going on and on about a bill which he didn’t care a thing about. The confusion below mirrored that in his head but he didn’t want to admit it. The affluence oozing from every nook of his office seemed to shield his countenance from the motley of clashing thoughts that plagued his mind then. The leather sofa, the new computer, the soft wall-to-wall Persian carpet, all watered down an otherwise brewing storm in his life.
He manoeuvred his weight around to look at the only object that seemed out of place; the large gold framed photo, which now lay on one of the sofas. It was an eyesore to him in an otherwise austere setting. He hurriedly untied his tie like one under a spell and threw it on the picture. It will end soon, his mind assured him, everything will be alright and Shanice will be yours forever. He went back to the window and continued waiting as he watched the foggy city. Behind him, the wall clock ticked; Tick, tock, tick, tock amplifying an already deafening silence and tension in of waiting the room.
His fingers were twitching involuntarily filled with an impatient urge to do something. He was not used to waiting not even before the appointed time. He had always had his way and say in life due to his wealth. The whole issue of Shanice was mellowing him, but what to do? He was secretly in love and he had to carry it hidden! The phone rang and he jumped from the window and grabbed it,
“Halloo? Is it you Shanice dear?” he amorously asked.
“Excuse me sir, this is the Crashers Gate Restaurant confirming that your dinner table and room reservations are ready,” a bored voice intoned.
“Did you have to call?” he was now irritated “I already knew they had to be ready!” he curtly snapped as he dropped the receiver.
Jackson could now feel the tautness in his heart gnawing at his impatient nerves. Still, he had to wait, for this was the day he was to consummate the love he had always harboured for the young lady. If only his wealth could wipe away all the stumbling blocks! He pondered. A glance at the upturned photo sent an icy shiver down his frayed nerves and he was numbed.
The school day was coming to a close. For Monique, a form four student, it had been a drag. The ghastly weather was just one of a myriad mishaps that marked the Friday. She was feeling down and out and as the young chemistry teacher went on and on and she felt an increasing urge to squeeze out of the window meshes and get out. Her open exercise book was full of doodling whose meaning she could not even fathom. However, all these seemed to emanate from a locked cage in her brain.
“So on Monday, I hope you will have attempted the two exercises on molar concepts. Otherwise have a nice weekend and take care,” Miss Kabugu said as she walked out.
The two words ‘nice’ and ‘weekend’ stoked an already burning frenzy in the young girl’s mind and body. A lot had to be schemed all within a few minutes. Her mind clock was racing and no sooner had the teacher walked out than she hurtled towards the Boarding Master’s office. She was leaving nothing to chance…she had to go out at all costs. Mr. Kirui was in his office and as usual his mind was miles away.
“Yes, young lady, you told me you wanted a leave out next week…”
“No, no sir,” Monique hastily interrupted “ I had requested for a leave out today and then I will come back tomorrow.”
“And why again do you want to go home?”
“Sir, we are staging a play on Sunday and I need to get some costumes from home then make my hair,” she pleadingly answered.
“Why do you need to make your hair, aren’t you the one who is casting the role of a witch?”
“Yes sir, but we have a photo shoot for the magazine before the play, please don’t refuse me the leave out.” The desperation was enough to stave off a ferocious wolf’s attack on a humble lamb.
Mr. Kirui also knew which side his bread was buttered, after all she was Jackson’s daughter and he simply couldn’t refuse her plea. However, he could smell something fishy because the father had visited that morning and never mentioned anything about a leave out.
“Mmmh okay then, but I need to see you here at 12.00 pm tomorrow without failure okay?”
Monique was over the sky now and her heart was doing a jig. Her dream was being realized. She would get out of school and then…oh! She didn’t want to think of it. Would it be romantic? It had to be, her first night out with a man, not just any man but Lenny, yes, Lenny her knight in shining armour. She lived for him since the day they had met at her father’s office blocks in town.
What had started as a casual friendship had grown into something deeper. She remembered the birthday present fro him, a flashy Nokia 6210. She hadn’t thought he would remember the special day but he was always full of surprises. The gift had turned out to be their only source of contact while in school and her current euphoric mood emanated from a text message she had received earlier in the week.
As the dazzling girl sashayed towards her dormitory, her erstwhile melancholy had been washed away like a bad nightmare on waking up. She didn’t especially want to remember her father’s visit that morning. She always shuddered when she thought of his visits. At 17 years she was metamorphosing out of a cocoon of ‘good girlhood’ into a rebellious teenager. The closest target of her wayward behaviour was obviously her doting father. Since she was a small girl, the old man had showered her with so much love that at her present age any more of it was choking. She hated his numerous visits to school though she never said this and loathed even more his open show of affection in front of the other students.
Her relationship with Lenny, her father’s assistant was a way of hitting back at his father. Her face lit up when she got the text message ‘Hi dear, can you make it to town on Friday evening? Make up a story in school pliz and call me when you get out, Lenny.’ As she packed her rucksack, she felt fully-grown. She was a woman and the words of her father that morning sounded like a long forgotten nursery school rhyme resonating from a million years back…‘mummy, don’t ever allow any man near you, do you hear me? Men are dangerous.’ The words felt like bile in her throat and she hated her father even more.
What audacity? Who does he think he is to lord over me forever? In any case he isn’t so holy, doesn’t he have the mistress who causes mum all her distress? She reasoned. She felt an increasing urge to prove herself independent and what better way than to spend a night with Lenny?
The hotel receptionist was suspiciously eyeing the young man in the lobby. He had been pacing up and down holding his phone as if waiting for a call. She could definitely tell that he was waiting for a lady but did she care? She was used to these rich sorts who understood nought about courtesy.
Just an hour earlier, she had called to confirm a dinner reservation for the wealthy but arrogant businessman Jackson Mbure. Instead of thanks, all she got were rude words and a hang up on the phone. She didn’t want to interfere with the young man’s temper. After a few minutes, he got a call and thought she couldn’t hear the words the man’s face was definitely brighter now as he approached her window.
“Hallo lady, can I get a double room for the night? He asked impatiently.
“Yes sir, and what is your name?” she politely asked.
“Now, I didn’t want my name to appear on your register, you know, for personal reasons.” he said.
“That will require security vetting sir if you don’t mind. Just wait for a minute.”
The minute dragged on and at last a burly man with a ‘hotel security chief’ tag pinned on his lapels appeared.
“How are you sir? I am Alex and I gather you want an anonymous reservation.”
“Yes sir, is it possible?” enquired the gentleman.
“Oh yeah, but I need to see your I.D, though your name wont appear on the hotel register.”
The young room seeker handed his I.D and the security man scrutinized it for a moment. Lenny Kavitu, that name sounds familiar thought the security man.
“This is okay sir, your room will be…yeah 222.thanks for choosing Crashers Gate, sir,”
As Lenny walked out of the hotel lobby he could even afford to thank his God for his small mercies. The room was just in the right corridor. In his mind, his ultimate revenge was rolling out. He couldn’t help but visualize the scene that would ensue later that evening. He could even smell the fear, the shame, and the horror that would fill the obvious tension…no he didn’t want to spoil the coming moment with undue anticipation.
The fact that an innocent girl was to be thrust into the vortex of the revenge game did not prick at his conscience. His ravenous thirst for hunger was so intense that nothing else could assuage his hurt ego. It had taken a lot of patience and meticulous planning up to this day, he told himself and the drama had to come to a close. He recalled how he got the information about Jackson’s date with Shanice from his secretary who even gave him the room they would be spending the night in. his plan seemed to have the heavens blessings in spite of its ruthlessness.
At Brook side drive, house number B 13; a graceful lady was quietly preparing supper. She had received a call from school that her only daughter was coming home for the night. She knew that Monique loved chicken and the sweet aroma of steaming chicken pervaded the house. She knew it being a Friday; her husband would most likely spend the night out as he had been increasingly doing of late. She yearned for the time alone with her dear daughter.
The wrinkleless face hid the distress in Mrs. Mbure’s life for she could see her marriage to Jackson was on its deathbed. She only cared about her daughter and had to win her over before the final tumbling down of the union. Her bad leg hindered frequent visits to her school though she knew that her husband always went for visits. The food was done and she sat down waiting.
The plane from Mombasa was touching down and even before the ‘belts off’ sign was on, Shanice’s belt was off. She knew she was late for the most important date in her life. She also knew Jackson would be mad at her but, hey, the plane was delayed due to foul weather! Her whole being was excited…will he propose; will he agree to divorce that useless bag of a wife? Her mind was heated up as she dialled the all-important number.
“Hallo Shanice? It’s you at last! Why have you kept me like this?” Jackson asked trying hard to hide his irritation.
“Don’t worry, sweet heart, the plane just touched down. Where are we spending the night?” she reassuringly answered.
“At the Crashers Gate Restaurant dear, I assure you it will be a night to remember.” his irritation was already gone. A word from his queen was enough to calm him.
“Crashers? Isn’t it too near town? What if Lenny spots us?”
“Don’t worry, I am always discreet. Furthermore soon he will have to learn about us, see you there honey.”
The Crashers’ resident band was playing the golden hits of the 1970s. The mood was lively as the who’s who in the city swooned on the dance floor. The aura of respectability and genteel veiled what was happening behind the lodging rooms. It was known as the ‘mistresses’ den’ where the wealthy indulged in their secretive liaisons. In Room 202 Jackson was preparing to take Shanice to the dance floor downstairs. He was feeling ecstatic after a long talk with her. The haunting memory of his wife’s face on the family photo was now long buried in a plethora of sweet emotions.
A few moments later, a call came through in a nearby room.
“They are in the corridor, hurry…” Lenny quickly took Monique’s hand and led her out of the door. A few steps ahead a rotund man and a young lady were engrossed in a tight embrace. Lenny didn’t waste a second; he cleared his throat and tightened his grip on Monique’s hips…
The intensity of the moment weighed down on the four of them. The tension could literally be cut with a knife. Jackson’s body had sagged, Shanice’s eyes were popping out dangerously and Monique’s hands had by reflex clasped Lenny. The lights seemed to flicker or a moment and the walls seemed to be closing in. the silence was deafening to a point of splintering the ear box. At one corner of the corridor, a cleaner nonchalantly went on with his duties feeling the warmth of a one thousand note in his pocket. After a long moment hoarse voices spoke,
“My daughter, why, why..?”
“Dad, how, why…?”
“Lenny you…how could you?”
At that moment, Lenny unclasped Monique’s hands and started walking away leaving three dazed people on the corridor. A wide smile adorned his now bright face and his steps had gained springiness in them. His heart was warm even as the others froze…it was the perfect rendezvous.
©Chrispus Kimaru 2009
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