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Effervescence

Episode 8 – Crossroads

You have never been this vanquished before. All your life, you have prided yourself in the ability to be the one in charge. The one who takes control of any situation no matter how dire, and turns it around. The bold and liberated woman who flashes out her feminine magic and pulls that rabbit out of the hat. The merchant of positivity. The solutions-oriented urban queen that is always the one grabbing others by the balls. Now you are on the receiving end. Nothing feels the same anymore. The wine is sour, like the grapes were rotten. The cigarettes smoke is choking you. The food is vapid and watery. The air is stuffy. The satin sheets are itchy. The time is crawling. And you cannot stand the sight of your husband. The worst part is that you are going through this all by yourself. Your pride can not let a single soul see you in this misery. You have to ponder over the myriad of questions buzzing in and out of your head, by yourself. How did it come to this? How could you have been so naive? How on earth will you get out of this mess unscathed?

For starters, the reputation you have worked so hard to build over the years is on the line. With Josephine’s mother dead, she (Josephine) could back out of the little deal you made at your office a while back. The one she asked for money and her mother’s protection. You had played your part and moved her mother from Kinarini to Mombasa. However, it is now clear to you that you are a player in an extremely nasty game. So nasty that your husband’s opponents had been able to track Josephine’s mother down. It was also clear that Josephine’s mother had been killed because Jos had switched sides and decided not to expose you. It would be no surprise if she blamed you for her mother’s death. With Josephine petrified from her mother’s death, she would be inclined to live up to the demands of the perpetrators. She would have to expose you or risk her life. Josephine had sworn that she was the only one with copies of the footage from Sam’s house. How true was that? What would happen if Kinyanjui’s people got hold of that footage? Your career would go up in smoke. Your husband’s political ambitions would follow. And your marriage would end. It would be a nightmare for Nina. No one would want to play with her at school. They would ridicule her and point fingers at her. No, you cannot let this happen. Josephine has to be neutralised. But how?

Then there is the little issue of the seven and a half weeks baby growing inside you. A huge part of you wants to keep it. You have always wanted to have a younger version of yourself. Your own flesh and blood. Nina is lovely, but she is not a little you. The thought of a toothless jaw suckling on your nipples is making you afford a little smile. The pregnancy photoshoots. The baby shower. The name. These thoughts are warming your rather heavy heart. But all this will come at a cost. With the whole world aware of your husband’s sterility, there is no way to keep the baby and not expose your infidelity. You will lose your marriage. Nina and the newborn baby will grow up without a father. What will you tell them when they ask about him? You have no answers. You step into the shower and stare at your reflection in the mirror. You have definitely had better days. You turn the shower on and sit squarely on the floor. For the first time in a long time, you sob like a little child. The warm water hits the top of your head and streams down your face, wiping away the tears. Its splash deafens the soft convulsive gasps and helpless cries coming from your mouth. Sometimes, when you have no answers, it is okay to just cry. Even the sky does it too. Maybe tomorrow, you will have some answers.

***

Stephen Kinyanjui is a worried man. The opinion polls are predicting his opponent will win with a seventy per cent margin. The residents are predicting an equally similar scenario. But Stephen has not been a sitting legislator for five years only to accept defeat without a fight. The little girl they had sent to obtain the dirty evidence of Baraza’s wife had played them dirty instead. They had killed her mother to teach her a lesson but still, she was nowhere to be found. That was a lost cause. In addition, the armour he had carried to tarnish Isak Baraza’s name during the debate had backfired on him. He had left the room amid boos and insults even from the people of Kikuyu, whom he had represented for five years. With only a week to the general election, it was time to draw the last arrow.

He was seated at the private lounge of one of the leading hotel chains in the country.

‘Welcome to The Bourbon Regency Hotel, Mr. Wanjala,’ Stephen stands to say hello to a short, obese dark man.

‘Thank you. I see things have quite changed since the last time I was here,’ Wanjala says, looking around before taking a seat.

‘The hotel is going through a restructure,’ Stephen says.

A stout Indian man with a white unkempt moustache joins them.

‘Mr. Wanjala, meet the Chairperson of the Bourbon Regency Group of Hotels, Mr. Aryuv Shah,’ Stephen makes the introductions, ‘My. Aryuv, this is Mr. Wanjala, the Returning Officer of Kiambu County, in charge of the upcoming elections,’ Stephen continues.

‘Pleased to meet you,’ Aryuv shakes Wanjala’s hand firmly before taking a seat next to him.

‘The reason we have asked you here today is that we have a proposition for you,’ Stephen goes right in.

He goes ahead to explain to Wanjala about the rhodium deposits discovered within the county. He informs Wanjala of a deal he struck with Bourbon Regency group of hotels where, should he become governor, he would lease one hundred acres of the land where the deposits were discovered to the Bourbon Regency group of hotels. The chain of hotels would then have the rights to mine, process and distribute the rhodium for a period of ten years. They would use the proceeds from the mining business to build the largest hotel in the country which would in exchange to provide jobs and livelihoods to thousands of residents of Kiambu. The offer they were giving Wanjala is to become a board member at the Bourbon Regency Group of Hotels. At what cost? Just tamper with the numbers a little bit and make sure the name of the next governor of Kiambu is Stephen Kinyanjui.

Wanjala listened keenly, his breath intensifying with every word Stephen spoke. He could not believe that he was right in the middle of an offer similar to those he always saw in the movies. A board member at a global chain of hotels! He did not even qualify to be a board member in his church back in Vihiga. The prospects of the new offer winked at him. Travelling around the world to inspect projects of the chain of hotels. Staying in any of its forty-three branches in ninety nine countries across the world with his family, at no cost. Playing golf at its well-manicured courses anywhere around the world. Ordering anything from the menu at no cost. Flashing out a golden platted business card with the words ‘Board Member’ next to the words ‘Bourbon Regency Group of Hotels’. This would be a big deal. But still, he needed time to think it through. He had a few reservations.

‘We expect your feedback in 24 hours,’ Stephen said, ‘Remember, not a word to anybody. Not even your wife.’

Wanjala nods and carries his stiff sweaty body out of the hotel.

***

Like many bachelors, Sam hates to cook. However, occasionally, when he has some free time on his hands, he tries to make use of his kitchen. He is cutting onions when a soft knock breaks the Sunday afternoon silence. He walks to the door and opens it. There she is. The girl from the club.

‘Josephine, how are you?’

‘Are you alone?’ Josephine asks. Sam nods.

Josephine strides in and dumps her bag on the table. Sam follows her.

‘There is something that you need to know,’ Josephine says, throwing her weight on the white leather couch.

‘I was making some beef stew. Can you at least let me finish? It is enough for the two of us,’ Sam asks.

‘Listen here, Sam. This is important,’ Josephine says. Sam sits down, placing the knife on the table.

Josephine tells her about that night in the club. About the morning after. About the cameras. About how he turned on Mwaura and went to Natasha instead. About their little deal with Natasha. About her mother’s death. She told Sam how she feared for her life and how confused she was. She said she had come to him because he was the only person he could trust. All this time, Sam was boiling inside. His heart was pounding like a jackhammer. His fingers were shaking and his hands had goosebumps all over them. He was breathing laboriously as if he had just sprinted to this reality of betrayal and blackmail. On impulse, he jumped onto Josephine’s neck and started strangling her. ‘How could you!’ he shouted as he tightened the grip around her neck. Josephine tried to shove him off her body but he was too strong for her. They rolled over from the couch and fell to the floor, Sam still on top of her, with his legs astride her chest.

Josephine was running out of breath. She rummaged through the top of the table and her hands felt a sharp metallic object. The knife Sam was using to cut onions. She swung her hand up and using all the energy she could master, she dug the knife into Sam’s lower back. Sam yelled painfully and rolled over, collapsing on the white fluffy mat. Josephine stood up and after regaining her breath, supported herself by placing her hands at the top of her knees. She looked at Sam. He was motionless. Blood was oozing from his lower abdomen. An inch of the knife was still inside his body. She felt his pulse. Nothing.

What had she done? Would he survive? Should she call for help? No way is she going to jail. Would they believe it was in self-defence? But they would ask her what she was doing at Sam’s place. And why he was attacking her in the first place. If this hit the news, Mwaura and his goons would be sure to silence her. They would not risk being exposed. What should she do?

‘Compose yourself’ she thought.

After a minute of staring obliviously into the air, she walked over to where Sam was lying and pulled out the knife from his back. She wiped it carefully and placed it inside her handbag. She took Sam’s phone, took a picture of Sam’s motionless body and sent it to Natasha. She switched off her phone, walked to the door and ran like she had just seen a ghost.

***

END OF EPISODE 8

***

Episode 9: 12th June, 2020

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