Celebrating East African Writing!

The Man in the Dark Suit by Lukoye Atwoli

Photo by Jerry Riley. Click on image or Visit to see more pictures of Kenya

The man was always to be found at the street corner, right under the traffic light, dressed in a dark suit and a yellowish tie.

The very first time I saw him I envied him. He was the picture of sophistication, and at the back of my mind there was a stirring of that strange emotion I had long forgotten, ambition. When I grew up I would have wanted to look just like him, and do whatever it was that he did that enabled him to dress so well.

I had forgotten all about him after that first time, until a while later while waiting for the traffic light to turn so that I could cross the road. I spotted him in that same position right under the traffic light. What struck me immediately was how easily I could recognize him. It was the attire. The same dark suit, and the yellowish tie.

For a month I took to looking out for him every time I walked down the street, and finally I mustered enough courage to pass near him and give him a quick once-over. Close-up, the suit actually looked frayed and unwashed, and the tie lost its sheen. The most striking feature, however, was his face. He had a forlorn look, not unlike the sky just before a very heavy downpour. There was something ominous about his demeanour, and this only served to increase my curiosity.

Today, however, something about him made me freeze in my tracks. The scene remains burnt into my memory- the cash machine at the street corner, the traffic light turning from red to amber; the smartly dressed crowd moving up and down the street, and finally, the two buses ferrying the city’s worker bees to their various destinations.

The downcast look was also gone, and he looked positively determined. I wondered whether something good had happened to turn his fortunes. I got my answer soon afterwards.

Hands in pockets, he slowly turned to look at the traffic lights. The pedestrian light remained red. He nodded his head, as if in receipt of a sudden revelation, and swiftly stepped onto the road. Just before he placed his foot on the tarmac, he looked to his right as if checking for oncoming traffic. He saw the fire engine hurtling down the road in an attempt to beat the red light.

He smiled, the first time I had seen him smile since I started observing him. His step quickened as if he had a date with destiny and was a few seconds late. There was a screech of tires as the truck driver suddenly realized the man’s intention. Metal crunched into flesh and bone, and the man was launched skyward, his body already unnaturally contorted.

Strangely, the smile never left his face, even as his body finally collided with the ground and was firmly plastered onto the tarmac by the truck’s skidding wheels.

©Dr Lukoye Atwoli

If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.


8 comments on “The Man in the Dark Suit by Lukoye Atwoli

  1. Beatrice Wainaina
    August 23, 2010

    interesting end, but the begining was somewhat slow for such an end. I vote 6!


  2. Felix Kyalo
    August 23, 2010

    I think the cash machine should have given you another twist to this story and also the fact that he was always to be found there everyday..sounds more like a con waiting for people to withdraw money from the ATM machine then rob them or maybe one of those street preachers who preach on moving buses hence give it a money angle where he would watch people who withdraw from the ATMs and then enter the buses(see the City Hoppa in background?). The street preacher would enter the bus and then his “sermon” would concentrate on giving towards the “work of God” and while preaching keep looking directly at the guys who have recently withdrawn cash who would hence ‘toa sadaka’ well out of the “guilty feeling”. Nice piece though. My vote:7


  3. Gitura Kihuria
    August 24, 2010

    I disagree with Beatrice.

    This is a well constructed story with good grammer which leaves one in suspense-of the intention of the Man with the dark suit and yellowish tie-which climaxes at the end.

    I vote 9.


  4. Ruhama Wakawa
    August 24, 2010

    Wasnt quite predictable. Nice style. 7


  5. Eberekpe
    August 25, 2010

    An imaginative, crative story-teller. 9


  6. Maina
    August 25, 2010

    The end strikes one. The beginning thows you off balance. 5.


  7. kyt
    August 26, 2010

    didnt see it ending that way! 8.


  8. Njahira
    August 26, 2010

    8…its good…the ending?????


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