There is a certain pain you feel when you see the man you like flirting with another woman. Even if this other woman is his wife. You feel like someone dug a pepper-sprayed javelin straight to your insides. Your throat aches as if you just gulped down a mouthful of tar. You give this other woman the look and curse under your breath. You just cannot understand what she has over you. You are thicker. Not in the head, physically. Your fashion sense speaks flamboyance while hers is just there. Your accent – My God! People just want to listen to you even if you are speaking gibberish. Her, she just speaks. Just ordinary words coming through her lipstick – free lips with no style.
The fact that this other woman is your colleague at work does not make things easier. You have to see and pretend to like her guts every single day. You have to pretend to not care whenever she talks about him, for the eleventh time every day. You have to restrain yourself from staring down at his bright smile on the mounted photo of him and her sitting comfortably at her desk. Some colleagues tease you about how you have the hots for her man, sometimes in her presence. She knows you want her man but is confident you cannot get him. You would not be the first woman to want to snatch her husband away from her and fail. But who can blame them? Victor is a chocolate mass of abs and inches. As hot as they come. Tall, handsome and rich. And he knows a thing or two about romance. The fact that he is on TV anchoring news every evening does not make it any easier for his low profile.
Victor aside, you and Ann are highly competitive at work. As Sales Account Managers for the leading Motor franchise in Africa, the stakes are high. Big brands, high – profile clients and top dollar. You joined a little earlier than her and so when she was brought on board, you were asked to show her the ropes. Ann was a fast learner. Within three months, she was already giving you a run for your money. Six months into her recruitment, she hit a record sale of the Jaguar XF at Ksh 50,000,000. Victor had referred Ann to Merkel Van Der Vatt, his boss at the media house who was well endowed financially and was looking to upgrade from his Porsche Cayenne. Ann got a fat commission of 5%. It was the talk of the whole office. The new girl had bagged the record sale in the history of ABC Motors! This meant war. The name Becky had been on the Employee of the Month board for as long as you could remember and it was now being replaced by a three-letter word. Ann.
Over the next couple of months, you were back to back on the board. Ann. Becky. Ann. Ann. Becky. Ann. Ann. Ann. Becky. Ann. Ann. Becky. It was not a secret anymore that the boss had developed a soft spot for Ann. He would ask her to accompany him to his meetings, sometimes pitching to the high – value clients, something that you used to do before she came along. During the staff meetings, he would nod in agreement at whatever Ann proposed, regardless of how lame it was. In his absence, Ann would chair these meetings and she would not hesitate to rub it in. She was second in command, everybody! Of course, the preferential treatment did not make the other sales account managers happy. They started to slowly develop a condescending attitude towards Ann. Ever heard of the phrase, nothing unites people than having a common enemy? Alliances began to form. The losers who did not fancy Ann’s progress sympathised with Becky while the work – smart brigade all cheered Ann on. The battles began.
The office became a madhouse. Backstabbing. Rumour – mongering. Undercutting each other’s sales. Stealing each other’s clients. Setting each other up. Conflict management was the first item on the agenda of every meeting. You could smell the negative air within the sales office. The fights escalated and became personal. Who had a hotter boyfriend? Who drove the sleekiest car? Who looked better without make – up? Whose kids went to the best school? And that was how Victor ended up in your radar. What better revenge to a woman you don’t like than to snatch her husband? And rub it in by keeping him?
Of course Ann is not happy about this and confronts you right in the presence of everybody, during the Monday morning tea – break.
‘Becky, you have to stop texting my husband,’
‘I wouldn’t text him if he wasn’t replying’
‘Why do you send him your pictures?’
‘He is the one that asks for them. I am an obedient girl’
More sarcastic laughter. This infuriates Ann. She grabs you by the neck and tries to strangle you. You throw her back and her back hits the wall, making her ricochet forward and spring towards you again. You dodge her but one of your fingernails isn’t that lucky. It falls off from her. ‘You broke my nails! You bitch!’ You scream out, your hands going for her head. She ducks downwards and holds you by the waist. You grab her hair and pull it, which makes her surrender. When the boss enters the cafeteria, you are holding Ann’s wig in your hand and blood is coming out from your left temple. Cameras are shuttering and your fellow members of staff are chattering. The Becky vs Ann war continues.
The ranches in Nanyuki are an ideal place to escape the crazy scamper of the city and draw some earthy humid breath. Most of these ranches are still owned by the white settlers popularly known as Johnies. Merkel Van Der Vatt has one just near the equator. One – hundred acres of bushy vegetation surrounding a wooden cabin right at the middle. There is a dam next to the cabin and a windmill overlooking Mt. Kenya. Ann has been here three times. The first time she was here, she had come to collect the cheque for the Jaguar XF. Merkel was in the company of other white folks. They were drinking some German cognac and trying to catch some fish in the dam.
The second and third times, they were all by themselves. Ann had spent the night and told Victor that she was at the Mombasa Branch of ABC Motors.
It’s Monday morning. Victor is lying in your bed. Finally, you have had the satisfaction you have always yearned for. You slept with Ann’s husband! You have taken a couple of pictures that you will use to rub it in on Ann’s face. It does not matter that you had to drug him to get him to your bed but who cares? A win is a win, right? Victor had texted Ann telling her that he was travelling for a work-related issue. You do not feel like leaving Victor’s arms. Let’s make the most out of this win, aye? So you grab your phone and text your boss.
‘Good morning, Sir. I travelled home to Nanyuki over the weekend and I was not able to make it back to Nairobi on time. Please excuse me from work today. I will be back tomorrow’
‘Noted. See you tomorrow’ the boss responds.
You switch off your phone and join Victor on the bed. Who would have thought married men were that good in bed?
Tuesday morning. You get in to work early, buzzing like neon lights. You are dressed to make a statement. ‘I am better than you. So much better that I fucked your husband!’. Members of your alliance stream in and after the giggles and hugs, you show the pictures. They are over the moon. They cannot wait for Ann to come in and start throwing shade all over her. What’s keeping her though? You learn that she was not at work yesterday either. Hmm, interesting! At 10.00 o’clock, the boss comes down to the sales office and calls out your name. He leads you on to the boardroom where two gentlemen in cheap suits are seated.
‘These men would like to have a word with you,’ he points you in and walks in after you.
‘Hello Ms. Rebecca. My name is Detective Johnson from Criminal Detective Investigations Unit. This is my colleague Detective Kagwe’
Detectives? You wonder. You shake their hands and take a seat across them.
‘You are a person of interest in a case we are working on. We would like to question you a little if you don’t mind’
‘What case?’ you ask, completely perplexed.
Detective Kagwe pulls out an image from a folder he is carrying.
‘This is your colleague. Ann Mwende. Her body was found dumped in Nanyuki town, just near the equator. We would like for you to account for your movements for the last 48 hours’
You and Ann were never friends but the news of her death hits you hard. I mean, you w
‘Wait..Ann…Ann is dead!’ you murmur, gazing at the image of her lifeless body lying on the table.
Detective Kagwe continues, ‘In this video your boss was so kind to share with us, you and Ann are seen fighting last week on Friday. In the video, you are quoted to say, ‘I will kill you!‘. Would you care to explain what you were fighting about?’
Silence. You look at your boss and he stares down at you, with his face clearly expressing his judgement. He thinks you did it.
Detective Kagwe pulls out a screenshot from his phone. ‘In this text message sent to your boss yesterday at 7.48 am, you claim that you are in Nanyuki, having travelled over the weekend, and are unable to come back to Nairobi. Is that right?’
‘Before you came in we were able to interrogate a few of your colleagues who stated that you were an admirer of the deceased’s husband. Is that correct?’ the other detective comes on.
‘Ms. Rebecca, you will have to accompany us to our headquarters for further questioning. Please feel free to procure the services of a lawyer if you lease,’ Detective Kagwe says, standing up.
You look at your boss. He says nothing. Does nothing either.
‘Hey, boss. Please talk to the company lawyer to…’
‘I’m afraid Becky, but in light of these accusations, we have terminated your employment with ABC Motors effective today. The company lawyer cannot represent you.’
‘Hey! I didn’t do it! I lied to you that I was in Nanyuki. I…’
Your voice fades as you are dragged out and pushed into a waiting car.
That night, you are on TV and Victor is not.