Celebrating East African Writing!
Written by Agar Frank (Early–man)
Alex sucked in a deep breath as he stumbled out of Tas Pub some minutes before midnight. It took a while for it to register in his mind that since it was night, he would not need the shades he’d imported from Italy. Even so he decided to keep them on and regretted the decision when moments later he fell over a log.
Pausing only to employ the choicest swear words he could conjure up, he was soon back on his feet wiping dust off his three piece suit.
It was a typical June night, with its chilly air and partially cloudy skies. The moon was high and so was he. He’d ordered shot after shot of the most expensive liquor Tas pub had to offer.
How many? He’d lost count at thirteen.
This is the life, He thought as he took out a Cuban cigar, lighted it and looked around at the deserted market square.
Save for the dog that was gnawing at a bone some metres away, not a soul was in sight. The farmers who had thronged around his car each eager to sell him his wares had all gone home.
“Soja,” they’d called out to him before he’d gotten out of his car and promised to strangle the next man, woman or child who dared to call him ‘Soja.’
Let them run he had snarled as the crowd melted before his eyes.
Hardly a fortnight ago, he’d been ‘Soja’, the half-wit guard who manned some spoilt athlete’s gates. Now he was Alex, one of the richest men in town.
Sammy had always joked that Soja didn’t know the difference between a hamburger and Hamburg the city. Alex had made a point to have ham with his breakfast every day and made sure all his three piece suits were imported from the German city.
Let them know that I am no longer one of them.
The night that had brought so many good fortunes was all but a blur to him. One moment he was ushering Sammy and his whore through the gates. The next Sammy was lying face down in a pool of his own blood below his bedroom balcony.
Two weeks before, Nyahururu town had woken up to a scandal like no other. Olympic marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru had died after a fall from a second-floor balcony during a domestic dispute involving Trizah his wife, and another woman.
One police official claimed the 24-year-old Wanjiru committed suicide, while another had said he jumped to stop his wife from leaving the house after she discovered him with the other woman.
Soja, however, had witnessed what had really happened.
And Soja had become Alex overnight, he smiled at the dog.
He’d not taken it kindly when Trizah had summoned him to the pub and the realization that he had unwittingly obeyed stung him even more.
Bloody whore. Am not some cur you can summon whenever you like. If it wasn’t for me, you would bescrubbing shit off a toilet floor in some prison.
She’d been seated in an alcove bent over a chess board with the pig-faced man she had recently taken to having tagging around her. Sir Piggy (as Alex liked to call him), was so pig like that Alex always had to exercise all the self-control he could muster to fight the instinct to hurl an angry bird at him.
Trizah Njeri, on the other hand was a pretty woman, lithe with slightly slanted oblong eyes and curly brown hair that made her eyes stand out.
And she’s supposed to be in mourning, Alex had thought as he edged his way towards them.
Neither had deigned to look up from their game even as Alex drew up a chair between them. The only acknowledgement he got when he cleared his throat was Sir Piggy raising his eyes to gaze at the him in distaste and grumbling irritably.
Trizah leaned back in her chair.
“You are late,” she had said sweetly. “Soja.”
His face contorted with rage when he remembered how Trizah had savored the last word before saying it.
He bent over, picked a stone and flung it as hard as he could at the dog.
He hissed as the dog ran away, howling into the night.
Just stoned your sister. How do you like me now?
“We can’t have you spending around like a man possessed,” she had fumed when Alex had told her he had gotten held up at the customs office waiting for his brand new Mercedes to be cleared.
“There are enough whispers as it is. We won’t have you risking everything when we’ve worked so hard to hush up everything.”
When the finer details of what had transpired the night her husband died had found the light of day, Trizah Njeri had indeed worked exceptionally hard to hush out the awkward questions that had arisen. Even Alex acknowledged that.
She knew who to pay in cash and who to pay in kind.
All that remained were the whispers. The hushed whispers that had followed Alex earlier that evening as he leapt over mucky puddles on his way toward Tas pub, looking more like some grotesque ballerina than anything else.
Soja had been one of those who had been paid in cash though he wouldn’t have minded being paid in kind.
“’we’,” Alex had sneered. “By ‘we’, you mean you and Sammy’s mom?”
How Trizah’s nostrils had flared when he’d said that out loud had been the highlight of the evening. She had stormed out without another word with her piggy faced escort hot on her heels.
She thought I didn’t know. Bloody bitch. I am not as stupid as I look.
He headed for where he had earlier packed his brand new car.
He said it out loud savoring the sound of it as he approached the vehicle.
He was just about to pull the car door open when something small and metallic struck it.
He stared at the hole that had appeared, almost magically, exactly where his hand had been merely seconds ago.
What the f-
It was only after a second hole had appeared an inch above his left shoulder that he realized someone was shooting at him.
When he glanced back over his shoulder, Sir Piggy was coming after him, all red in the face and pig like. The booze was gone from him in an instant.
And then he was in the open field, and running.
It didn’t no matter. He could find the way back to his car later, once he’d put as much distance as he could between him and the pig-faced man.
Alex dashed across a brown weedy field, through waist-high grass and piles of dry leaves that flurried and flew when he galloped past.
There were buildings to his left, he saw.
I can lose him there.
A dry ditch ran along one side of the field, but he leapt it without breaking stride, and plunged in among the hovels.
A quick peek back showed Sir Piggy still hard on his heels.
He leapt a rotten log and swung wide around a shack running headlong into a filthy drainage dyke. He splashed down into it, through water choked with wet brown leaves. Some clung to his legs as he climbed the other side.
I need to find somewhere to hide. A tree to climb or something.
Instead he found an alley. It was narrow and dimly lit, but it was something.
He raced along it, cloth lines whipping at his face. One snagged his coat and yanked it back, and for half a heartbeat he feared he’d been caught.
A cat burst from behind a dustbin as he passed, startled by the fury of his flight.
Breathing heavily behind a dustbin, he almost broke into dance when Piggy’s silhouette raced past the alleyway.
For a heart-rending split-second he thought he had outfoxed his way out.
It was only after the big man had doubled back and gazed down the dark alley that he realized that his goose was truly cooked.
As quickly and quietly as he could, he tried waddling away duck-like in the opposite direction but froze when he stepped on a twig.
Though Soja had not been a religious man in his adult life, he’d been raised in a strict catholic family. Half-forgotten prayers found their way to his mouth as Piggy’s head turned towards the sound.
“Hail Mary, full of grace-,” he’d began mumbling under his breathe but the words evaporated when Piggy started forward, cocking his gun and shoving dustbins aside.
If I am going to die, let me die on my feet. Not lurking behind a dustbin like some craven cur.
He tried to drum up what he considered had to be enough courage to stand up, but when he tried standing, his knees were all weak. He couldn’t help but ask himself if it had been worth it; if it had been worth his life.
Too late to start regretting, he thought as Piggy shoved aside his dustbin.
“Trizah wants you to say Hi to Sammy when you see him,” Piggy rasped of malice as he raised his pistol.
“If you think am going to beg- “
He never got to finish his sentence.
Even with death moments away, Alex could not help but notice just how pig-like his assaulter’s face looked.
The man pointed the pistol between his eyes and pulled the trigger.The last thing he saw was the mini-explosion inside the pistol barrel.
He was dead before he hit the ground.