Taxi drivers have the best stories. They just cannot shut up and drive. Especially when traffic is a bitch and they need to pass the time with something other than changing the stereo stations. They happen to know a little bit of everything. You might be astounded to hear stories about you, being told to you. Like now, this one is showing me Mheshimiwa’s house. One of his many houses. He tells me how Mheshimiwa grabbed the piece of land from a children’s home. He boasts of how he has dropped dozens of girls there in the middle of the night. He also whines about how this Mheshimiwa guy hardly tips. From what I gather, this Mheshimiwa guy must be one mean old guy. And bald. And potbellied.
‘What’s your stop again?’ he asks?
‘Right there,’ I say, pointing at Mheshimiwa’s gate.
‘Hii Nairobi ni kutafuta,’ I say, jumping out of his poorly – maintained Toyota Fielder, ‘Ntakupigia unikujie’ I add.
The gateman sees me walking up the gateway and swings the sliding door open for me. He gazes at my rather well – fleshed thighs tapering into the knee-high brown leather boots. He must be wondering what on earth is wrong with me, wearing leather boots on such a hot Wednesday afternoon. I swing my hips more vigorously as I get into the house. As long as he’s still staring, he might as well get an eyeful. Poor him. How many times does he get to see what he can’t have?
Mheshimiwa is in a white fluffy robe smoking a cigarette by the balcony. His other hand is on his cellphone. A funny video is playing and he is in stitches, his upper body convulsing up and down. He is everything the taxi driver said he is, plus tax! His face is a round mass of oily dark tissue. His gory eyes are swallowed between his obtruding forehead and his bulbous cheeks. A spooky scar extends from his white moustache transversing his left jaw. An enormous gully separates the back of his head from his short stound neck. White strands of hair are sparsely trying to make their way out of his rashy chest. His tummy is so big, I bet he cannot see his weiner without the help of a mirror. His bare feet seem weary from supporting the stubby rotund legs protruding from under his robe.
‘You must be Elizabeth,’ he shouts as soon as he sees me.
‘Please, call me Liz,’ I respond.
‘Alright, Liz. Welcome to my hood,’ he laughs his belly out.
‘Thank you,’ I chuckle. Should that be funny?
‘This way, please’ he shows me to a looping flight of stairs.
‘Wow! Madam never disappoints. Look at you, you’re a beauty!’ he exclaims as he stares at my behind as I make my way up.
Madam is the owner of the massage parlour I work for. By massage parlour I mean brothel. She hooks up wealthy men (and women) with whatever their sexual hearts’ desires. Everything is done with a military level of discretion. You don’t get to meet Madam. She vets you via a video interview and if you meet the cut, you’re assigned to one of her clients on a need basis. Nobody knows her real name or how she looks like. She works purely through referrals. Her clients pay her a monthly subscription which is collected strictly in cash by one of her cronies. I hear it is something close to Ksh 50,000. On top of this, the clients are supposed to remunerate the girls (or boys) directly, at their pleasure.
‘Here we are,’ I am ushered into a dimly – lit room, filled with all sorts of sadomasochism paraphernalia. Ropes. Handcuffs. Chains. Whips. There’s even a goddamned pair of steel pliers! A lady dressed in a black leather suit and a pair of matching black stilettos is lying on the black couch next to the fireplace. She jumps to her feet as soon as we walk in.
‘Liz, meet Betty. Betty, Liz,’ Mhesh introduces us to each other.
Betty winks at me, her hands resting on her hips. I nervously wink back, bewildered. Mhesh notices the perplexion on my face.
‘Oh. Madam didn’t tell you, did she?’
‘Tell me what?’
‘You are here for a threesome. A very interesting threesome,’ he laughs naughtily.
‘Aren’t you up for it? Madam said..’
‘No, no, no. It’s fine. It’s just that this will cost more,’
A frown replaces the naughty grin on his face.
‘Well, how much more?’
The frown intensifies.
‘Hell, I do not have that kind of cash on me right now,’ he bellows.
‘Look for it,’ I suggest.
‘Come on, I can always send you the money later,’ he negotiates.
‘Money upfront,’ I stand my ground.
‘You don’t trust me?’ He asks, a little upset. He looks at Betty, cueing her to help. Betty remains silent. She knows the trade. Rule number one is: A man has two heads. Before sex, he uses the one in the middle of his body. It’s called the small head. After sex, he uses the one at the top of his body. The big head. Therefore, never expect a man to keep a promise he made with his small head because his big head will not keep it. Money upfront, always!
Mhesh walks away, cursing inaudibly under his breath.
He walks back with a wad of cash and dumps it on the black couch.
I count it carefully and place it into the pocket on the inside of my right boot. Yes, my boots have pockets! That explains why I am withstanding the heat from knee-high brown leather boots on a hot Wednesday afternoon.
‘Happy?’ He queries. I nod. ‘Can we do this now?’ He is anxious, and a little angry.
‘Absolutely. Can I have a glass of water first?’
He points to the sink. There’s a tray of glasses on the coffee table next to it.
I pick one and fill it with water. I grab the piece of paper from the inside of my bra and empty the contents into the glass of water. I down the water in one gulp.
‘Let’s do this!’ I shout.
I walk over to the shelf and pick out a short whip. I nod at Betty who takes the cue to go first. She cuffs him against the wall. She rolls open his robe confirming my worst fears. He is not only uncircumcised, he has also not had any interactions with a razor for quite some time.
‘Some bit of foreplay first,’ Mhesh suggests, ‘ Whip her,’ she asks of Betty.
I lay down on all fours and Betty drops the whip across my back, leaving a cloud of dust in the air and a soft moan in my mouth. These whips have not been used for quite a while. Mhesh‘s face lights up, as if cheering Betty on. No sooner does she lay the whip on my back, than I fall flat on my face. I am shaking uncontrollably. White foam is fiercely emanating from my mouth in between inaudible mumbles. My arms and legs are spasming violently. My eyes are blinking fast and my eyeballs seem to have disappeared. I look like a ghost.
Betty and Mhesh are appalled. They freeze and stare at me, completely aghast. Mhesh’s boner disappears like a fart in a windstorm.
‘Oh My God! What did I do!’ Betty screams,’ We need an ambulance!’
‘No!’ cuts in Mhesh, ‘They will start asking questions and it will lead to me,’ he adds.
‘So we should just let her die?’ Betty is astounded.
‘Of course not! That would bring the police here. Let me think,’ he shouts.
He tries to scratch his head but his hands are restrained by the handcuffs.
‘Get me out of these things,’ he orders Betty. She does.
‘Call …Call my …’ I am trying to say something.
‘Call your what!’ Betty is vigorously patting my face.
‘Taxi.. Taxi…driver!’ the words come out. So does another bout of foam.
‘What’s his name? Do you have his number?’ Betty asks, her eyes about to erupt with tears.
‘Check her phone. Must be the same taxi that dropped her,’ Mhesh suggests.
Betty grabs my purse and gets my phone. She scrolls to the call logs and brings the phone to my face.
‘Is this the number?’ She asks.
I struggle to stop the blinking of my eyes and glance at my phone. I shake my head.
Betty scrolls down. She shows me three more phone numbers until she gets to the actual number.
She rings. No response. She rings again. No response. She rings a third time. It goes unanswered.
‘Oh My God! What do we do now! I could go to jail if she dies!’ Betty is roaming around the room. The silence is pierced by the sharp ring of my phone. It’s the number Betty had dialled. She gathers her cool and speaks calmly into the phone, asking the person on the other end to come pick me up. He says he is in the neighbourhood and will be there shortly.
Twenty minutes later, I am lying at the back of Kariuki’s taxi. The same taxi that dropped me. Kariuki is moving fast as per the instructions issued by Mhesh. ‘Take her to this clinic. Get her in through the back door. I do not want people asking questions,’ he had said, giving Kariuki Dr. Kiogora’s card. Dr. Kiogora is Mhesh’s personal doctor.
‘Slow down a bit,’ I mumble from the back.
‘I can’t. I have been instructed to…’
‘Relax! I am okay,’ I say.
I sit up and wipe the foam from my mouth. I grab a bottle of water from my purse and swirl my mouth clean. I wipe my face with a wet – wipe and spray my body with cologne. I look as fresh as a cake straight from the oven.
Kariuki, the driver, pulls up on the side of the road. His face indicates that he wants an explanation but the words do not come out. I volunteer the information.
I tell him of a chemical compound called sodium bicarbonate, commonly referred to as baking soda. I explain to him that a reaction between sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen oxide (water) causes an effervescence that produces a lot of foam in a matter of minutes. I describe to him how I put the baking soda in my glass of water in order to fake sickness and be let go from the nightmare that would have been having a threesome with Mhesh and Betty. I tell him how I had received money upfront and I show him my boot pockets. I ask him to drop me in town and I leave him a handsome tip in exchange for his silence.
Kariuki drives away.
I pop into a public toilet and change into a new outfit. I pop open my phone and dump the SIM card inside the toilet. I have to completely erase every trace of my existence. Of course Mhesh would lodge a complaint to Madam. Madam would have her people looking for me. They would probably torture Kariuki to get answers from him. He would have none. He had no idea where I lived or what my real name was. He would never recognise me even if I stared right into his eyes.
I jump into another taxi and ask him to take me home. It’s a long drive. This taxi driver is not as talkative as Kariuki which is a good thing. I need a little bit of quiet. I need to think who my next victim will be.