Celebrating East African Writing!
“Are you sure you did not hurt yourself today?” Koli asked. “You may have overdone the kicks…”
“It’s been six months, Koli. I should know better than that, don’t you think?” She interrupted the cardio kickboxing instructor, picked up her bag and left the gym.
Audrey was right. He was wrong. She had not ‘overdone’ anything. All she did was try to get rid of a mass of anger on her throat. Someone had thrown her under the proverbial bus and she felt the need to save her skull from his barbaric act. Unfortunately, the overextended, “Kiiiick, to the knee, jab, jab and kick, kick, to the knee, jab, jab, jab and kick” had not done a good rescue job. She still felt like someone had let down a running stomach on her head and the filth was flowing down her face, seeping into her eyes, nose and mouth.
Hence the need to get on her scooter and rush before the ceremony started.
She checked the contents of the scooter basket. They were intact. She wore the helmet and rode off to the very odd choice venue.
By the time she got there, the vows had been exchanged. Now, it was kissie-kissie time. The bride was wearing the usual Nairobi bride ‘sleeveless, bare back and unsightly boobies’ dress and her purple lips were puckered and eager. The groom, with his large compound eyes, looked like the Average Kamau in dress pants, a shirt, a cravat and a waist-coat. She appeared pleased with herself; he looked complacent, like a sick dog.
‘Mwaaaah’ and his lips had purple smudge on them. The Mrs. lovingly licked her thumb and wiped the smudge off his lips, just like a mother does to a child, at the same time licking the lipstick from her teeth.
Audrey, still on the scooter, hidden by three, unnecessarily conjoined flowery pillars watched as they sat on the two chairs set aside for them on the podium. The Reverend stood from his chair and made for the temporary pulpit to serve his marital sermon.
Here lay the problem. She did not anticipate the ludicrous podium. It would not do. She gave the hand grenades in the basket a critical eye, counted the number of possible casualties; she included and realized that the plan of jumping just the two love birds was not feasible…with a podium. First, her arm, strong as it was, couldn’t possibly swing a grenade that far from a scooter. Second she had planned on doing cook offs after pulling the rings. If she did that, the news would read differently. Something like,’ Woman on Scooter blows herself up at an uncharacteristic wedding at the historical Kamkunji Grounds.’
No, she needed something more specific and extremely tragic for the Mr. and Mrs. It had to be clean and diabolical; worse than bootleg explosives. Something that would merit applause from the damned. It would require close to 47 hours planning but step one had to be climbed by the end of the day. Possibly within the next three hours, in the form of a wedding gift from a good old family friend.
“Mzuri,” answered the man at the information desk.
“Inspector Kipchuruchuru yupo?”
“Ndiyo, na wewe ni nani?”
“Mtoto wa ndugu yake.”
He leaned forward and looked at her entire frame. Petite, very high burgundy shoes, black fitting skirt suit, black scarf with red and white polka dots and hair that was cut like a little white boy’s hair. Convinced that she was the lady actuary that the boss had ordered he let in, he directed her.
“Ehhh, alisema utakuja. Fanya hivi, nenda kwa yard, utampata. Fuata tu reli mpaka…”
“Najua,” she hurriedly walked towards the platform and turned left onto the track. She was so excited she nearly chocked on her saliva.
Papa Kipchuruchuru was not her uncle but he was her godfather, so to speak. He was a failed soldier turned train driver. She met him in 1991 when she was seven years old. Back then her parents travelled a lot by rail and they always tagged her along. They quarreled endlessly and bit each others’ ears through the journey. Whenever that happened, Audrey would walk out of the first class train compartment and wander about the train. One time, she bumped onto the knees of a man. He was standing at an angle by a window. Then, he looked like a very important man and she almost walked away but her eyes caught the thumb in his mouth. She stood beside him and sucked her thumb as well. From that day he became the father that she should have had.
Now, twenty years later, he was Regional Locomotive Inspector, leaning on a pole at the yard, staring intently at a pool of oil. As soon as she made him out in the green overalls, she rushed her feet, tears dancing in her eyes. He embraced her and she held on a little longer, then her eagerness took over.
“Did you deliver the gift on Saturday?”
“Yes I did, dressed up like a likely friend of the parents. She called that night. This means you were right. Newly weds always open the envelopes before the honeymoon, probably hoping for some cash.”
“Ehe?” Audrey urged.
“She called to apologize, said that her ‘houseband’ and her already had honeymoon plans and they were leaving yesterday. I coughed and faked an old man’s disease and convinced her to take this trip first, it’s only for two days. Zapele Islands were too beautiful to reject and from there they could connect to their original destination. It wouldn’t hurt.”
“The idiot, agreed.”
“Alright we have no time to waste,” she went into the shade and came out five minutes later, maroon overalls, training shoes and a baseball cap.
They walked towards a locomotive, meters away and he tried to get the story.
“Scorn, Papa, scorn. You do understand don’t you?”
He held her hand protectively recalling the day, seventeen years ago, when he walked into a train car and found her naked father trying to penetrate her from behind. Her mother sat there and watched. Three days later a newspaper report read that a highly intoxicated couple had fallen asleep on the rail track in Yala and a train squished them into minced human. Since then she had lived with him and on his army stories, lessons on mechanical engineering and his obsession with physical fitness.
“You never know if you will need it until you need it,” he barked every time she sulked and pouted at his obsession and need to turn her into a female Kipchuruchuru. “Anyway, I may die before you and I have to leave you with something, don’t I?”
Papa Chur and Audrey finally got to the locomotive and went under the car with a tool box and two flashlights between them. Within an hour, they interfered with the braking system, the fuel tank compartments, the breaking system and the over- speed safety device. The sand tanks and sand sprayers were muddled as well. The traction system was going to do exactly what they wanted it to do; get the damn locomotive off the rails.
8pm and the pair were on the platform with their luggage. A few meters away, the lights on two locomotives were on. Her phone rang and the old man told her to leave the luggage on the platform and walk with her husband across three rail tracks. The train would pick them up there and someone else would load their luggage. She asked about the second train. He said that it was an ‘escort train’. She slid her mobile phone into her jeans’ pocket, clapped excitedly and took her ‘houseband’ by the hand. His compound eyes saw more to this sinister arrangement but he did not utter a word. He did as she said and they stood exactly where the old man said they should.
Audrey got on the death locomotive, still in the maroon overalls and cap. Papa Chur got onto the second loco.
“Remember to pull the notches like I showed you…and to get the hell out immediately I reach out my hand.”
“Alright,” Audrey affirmed.
Her locomotive was running light but Papa’s was towing two loaded freight cars. She got the knife switch and soon enough the eight wheels were moving. She looked to her left and Papa Chur was driving simultaneously.
A minute later he signed at her to accelerate.
The new wife clapped some more. The ‘houseband’ shifted on his feet.
The locomotive rushed. Papa Chur held out his hand and Audrey balanced her feet at the cab’s door. She stretched until his fingers firmly clasped her wrist. All she had learned at the kickboxing class came to play here. The co-ordination, balance, flexibility and strength to lunge forward and into Papa’s arms, just as traction failed the loco – now on the last notch- and the purple lips let out an almost demonic scream.
The old man sat on his armchair, watching the morning news on television.
He smiled and called Audrey, “You should have watched the news.”
“Hey Papa, I have to work you know. I am sure they will do a recap tonight. And the suitcases?”
“Just about to torch them, “he ended the call.
Linda Musita © 2011 akhatenje.blogspot.com