Celebrating East African Writing!

Mean Streets

By Kimani Waweru

Jess Mwangemi, who was slightly drunk, was trying to get home before dawn. She walked along one of the deserted roads of the sleeping city; the street lights throwing teasing rays of orange light on her path. Tall buildings stood stern on her left and the city park reposed on her right, the short slightly plump 27 year old was looking for a taxi. The lazy street was unoccupied except for her and one more, a man.

She had noticed him before as she walked but had ignored him; but now he was beginning to make her nervous. She wasn’t wearing her glasses so when she looked back she couldn’t make out his face; the dull street lights were of no help either. All she could see was that he was wearing a large overcoat; dark coloured.

Jess felt even more uneasy when she heard the man’s footsteps quicken. She decided to cross the road to the park and see what he would do. She knew she was in trouble when the man also crossed the street and started to approach her. Though she was slightly groggy from the party, she tried to walk faster; the taxi hub was not too far off, just two corners away.

As she walked, she cursed herself for not accepting a lift home from Thomas, a coworker who she thought was creepy. It was at the office party that management threw; an annual party held once a year when the company books came out and the midsized investment company she and Thomas worked for, Tulia Investments, was in the black.

The party was always held at the same venue, Mastari hotel. Which one of the managers and owners had shares in and which was a brisk five minute walk from the company’s two storey office building.

The entire staff was there for the party, even the tea-girl and the security guards; the offices shut up tight with only a lone security guard who had drawn the short straw left to hold the fort.

Jess was talking to Sylvia, a young bubbly plump intern who had expresses interest in being mentored by her when Thomas approached. She had previously accepted a ride from him but he had made unwanted advances which made her uncomfortable. The fact that he knew where she lived was bad enough. She had shooed him off and as she left the party saw him being derided by two other workmates; Joseph and Greg.

Now, she pictured the man behind her getting closer, removing a sharp weapon from inside his dark coat and thrusting it into her back. Her red blood spewing out of her body and her lying on the street bleeding to death and becoming an item on the news after the usual political swill:

“A young foolish woman was yesterday found murdered in City Park after refusing a perfectly innocent lift home from a kind coworker. She leaves behind no one because she was a sad and pathetic lonely creature who lived by herself, not even a cat is left to morn for her.”

The first time she was mugged in the city was a bright sunny Saturday afternoon. She was just starting to cross the road with one foot off the pavement and one her hand on her phone. Someone tapped her shoulder from behind and as she turned felt a pressure oh her hand as the phone was snatched by a little street urchin. She had screamed and went to chase the little thief when a foot came out of nowhere and tripped her to the ground. After she recovered and pulled herself up the urchin, the owner of the foot and her phone were gone.

The situation she was in now was a very different story; she could see no one else around and as the man got closer to her she turned around to make like she was going back to the hotel. This turned out to be a very bad idea. Without speaking a word the man grabbed her by her hand and threw her into the bushes, she screamed once and was about to scream again when a huge black fist emerged from the darkness and made contact with her face sending her head and body reeling back, falling and hitting the ground hard.

Jess opened her eyes and looked up to see nothing but the stary sky. She had lost consciousness; but for how long? Her head hurt, especially her nose. She heard a noise coming from the direction of her feet; she was afraid to look. She raised her head slowly and felt a liquid roll down her face past her cheeks. At first she thought it was tears but realized it was coming from her nose, it was blood.

She got her head up enough to see the man standing over her. He had her purse in one hand and was going through it with the other. He hadn’t noticed she was up. She looked around to see if could see anyone around but couldn’t see past the bushes there. She was thinking of a path to escape when the man threw her purse down next to her. She couldn’t see his face from the glare of the streetlight. She hoped he would now leave since he had got what he wanted.

The man just stood there looking at her saying nothing. The silence was broken by the noise of an approaching car in the short distance. As the car passed them, its headlights lit up the man’s face; it was familiar

“Joseph?” Jess exclaimed in shock.

“At your service,” the man replied.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“Saving your ass,” Joseph replied not nearly answering Jess’ question.

“What do you mean? What the hell is going on?” Jess asked puzzled.

“I’m sorry I hit you in the face but I had to get your attention. If I just told you, you wouldn’t have believed me. I had to make sure you knew I was serious.”

Joseph put his hand out to help Jess to her feet but she ignored it. She managed to get up on her own, holding her nose.

“What is the matter with you? Are you insane? My nose is bleeding, why were you going through my purse?” Jess’ voice was getting loud.

“They took it,” Joseph interjected.

“What? Who took what?” It was going too fast for Jess, she tried to keep up.

“Your security pass, it’s gone,” answered Joseph, he seemed to be in a hurry.

Jess picked up her purse and looked through it and indeed couldn’t find her security pass which was used to gain access to the office building and which also kept track of staff attendance.

“You took it,” Jess accused Joseph.

“I promise you I didn’t,“ Joseph answered.

“Then who did. Who’s this ‘they’ you are talking about? What’s going on?”

“Thomas and Greg and I were planning to rip off the company. We were planning on using Sylvia’s security pass to get into the office but she didn’t bring it with her to the party so Thomas decided to use your pass instead,” Joseph explained quickly.

“What are you talking about? There is no money to steal in the office.”

“It’s not money we are after; we were going to get into the system and get the access passwords to the back end of the system and use it to siphon money from client accounts.”

“Why the hell are you telling me this now?” Jess was becoming suspicious.

“I like you; I didn’t want you to get into trouble. Come we have to hurry.” Joseph started walking away. Jess thought about fleeing to the taxi hub but decided to follow him instead. When she caught up he said.

“We have to get back and stop them before they get into the system using your pass.”

They ran back and made it to the office in a few minutes. The main door was open and held ajar by a chair. They got to the head accountant’s office where all the records were kept but there was no one there, Joseph said.

“There are only two other places they could be. I’ll check the server room, you go to the boss’s office” Joseph screamed at her.

He headed down the hall and Jess went up the stairs to the boss’s office. She got to the door and threw it open, there was no one there. She proceeded quickly to the computer and saw that it was off; maybe they hadn’t gotten to it yet.

Suddenly a thought came into a head and she rushed out and headed to the security room which was on the same floor. She got to the room and found the lone security guard tied to the chair blindfolded. Her security pass was next to the computer.

As soon as the truth dawn on her the alarm went off. She ran downstairs quickly and arrived just in time to see through the now locked glass door; Joseph getting into a car with Thomas and Greg and speed away. The police were on their way and they would find her locked in with the passwords stolen. The weight was too much for her, she stumbles on her knees and screamed.

©Kimani Waweru My blog >> MIND BABIES



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