No Witnesses

 

 

 

I was born in 7th March, 1987. The day I was born, it rained hard, a storm that brought down trees and houses. I was born in my mothers and fathers house by a midwife. My father hated hospitals, he said that they reeked of weakness and infection. So my mother pushed without anaesthetic, cried and cursed until my head popped out. Outside, lighting struck followed by deafening thunder as if in protest to something. The midwife with really rough hands probably from harvesting tea in the fields, pulled my small body in the world.

 
My father worked in the armoury where he tended to the army’s weapons. I can remember him cleaning more guns in our living room than I saw him shower. He held himself on high regard constantly claiming that only a man of great responsibility could be accorded such an important task. Before I could stop pooping my pants, I knew how to hold and clean a gun.

 
On the evening of 27th January 1996 as I came from school, I found my father’s body splattered around the floor like a red carpet on Christmas. He had blown himself to kingdom come on his favourite seat in the living room while tending to his guns. Poor guy had taken his wife with him without even asking. Asking was not his style, he was a dictator, issuing commands and hitting mother on the head was more his style. Now, standing on the doorway, all I could see was brains and decapitated limbs of both him and mother.

 
I shed a few necessary tears for mother, collected the remaining guns and set foot on my way. Let the dead take care of themselves; the Bible says something like that, I think. His guns were now my guns. I remember vividly packing no clothes or food, the only thing I packed were the deadly guns father loved. To this day I do not know whether father blew himself up by accident or on purpose. Maybe it was mother who got tired of him and shut him up by blowing his brains, whatever happened, I was not staying to find out.

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

I loved blood. I made acquaintance with the butcher in the place I moved to. He supplied me with raw blood from the cattle they butchered and I would put in a cup in the secrecy of my wrecked house and sip it slowly like Asian tea. A cup in the morning and a cup in the evening, sometimes even more when the spoils from the slaughter house accommodated. I lied to the butcher man that I used to make mutura. Stupid dumbass believed me.

 

 

 
A usual day for me was working out and cleaning my guns which were often dirty from hunting hare in the Aberdare forest. I ate a lot of meat. My body was more meat than brains but so is everybody else’s’. My body was curved like a sculpture from the workouts with all kinds of vein patterns on my arms. Strength was mandatory, that was one thing I had picked from father. I was hairy, very hairy all over my body like a caveman. But I was a caveman of sorts, living on the edge of the forest and hunting deer and hare for meals.

 

 

 
At the age of seventeen, as I lay on the grass a scorpion climbed up my boot and chewed my left heel unceremoniously. I barely survived the poison but the living were not done with me so I survived day after day until the only thing left to tell the scorpion story was a limp. This limp stays with me to this day.

 

 

 

 
At nineteen I began working on contracts. A man and his wife were walking home when an armed guy in a hoodie approached them, pointed a gun and promised to put bullet holes in their stomachs if they did not hand over their phones, wallets and jewellery. On ordinary circumstances, I would have kept to the darkness and watched the free film before I went on my way. The two victims handed the thug everything they had and begged for their lives. Cowards deserve to die, so I hoped that the gun the hoodie guy held would get to be fired. Then it happened that the man threw himself in front of the lady and asked the hoodie guy to shoot him and let his wife go in peace. In my mind, I quickly resolved that this man was not a coward. He was brave he did not deserve a bullet after all. I snuck behind the bushes stealthily and silently like a serpent and struck the hoodie guy on his back, disarmed him effortlessly, cautiously and swiftly, just like hunting deer before I put bullets all over his body. The first bullet on his left foot, second on his right knee cap, third on his belly button, fourth on his left eye, sixth on the right lung before the last bullet put him to eternal sleep from the forehead. I would have shot his groins too but the bullets ran out.
The man and the wife rewarded me heavily even though I had not expected it with six thousand shillings and that became my first contract.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

When I met Maria, I had just come from the Rift Valley. I had been there for three days, working. This assignment was special. It involved a very important man. My contact, the person who had handed me the assignment also sounded important but identity was not any of my concern. So on a misty Tuesday morning, as a helicopter sailed an important person to the plains of the Rift Valley for an occasion, I lay flat on a raised ground one eye shut to put all the juice on the other one that was looking on a tiny aiming hole of my father’s M21 Sniper Weapon machine. I shot three times; at the pilot, then the choppers propeller and finally just as the chopper begun to spin, I shot one passenger. The last shot was unnecessary. The chopper landed on a hill and blew up like the fourth of July. The job was not done until I walked to the crushed site and shot the remains gratuitously. No witnesses.

 
I was paid twenty thousand shillings. I met Maria on my usual visits to the butcher. She was barely dressed. All she had were pieces of cheap fabric covering her private areas seductively, I assumed it was fashion. She stood by the butchery calmly as if waiting for someone. I had never spoken to a girl so I was specifically surprised she talked to me first. It was a quick hello followed by a question I did not have a response to. She asked me whether I had seen anything I liked. It was a weird question but one that demanded a response. I threw my eyes to her hair, artificial but so beautiful, her body, the way it graciously made a figure eight and the waist, the tiny waist held me captive that I only murmured a yes.

 
Maria must have been a very free person because while I expected her to turn away and move on like I did not exist, she simply asked me another question. She wanted to know whether I had money and food because as she put it, she was starving. I explained to her patiently that I had had good luck that morning and caught a gazelle that was lying waiting to be roasted at my place and yes, I did have money. With that, Maria held my arm and we walked talking about everything until we got to my house.

 
This had been the first time I had company at my place so while I stayed nervous, she eased the mood by constantly holding my arm. I liked the way she held my arm and looked into my eyes. Instead of roasting the meat, we boiled it as per Maria’s suggestion. She served the meat on a plate and we ate while she went on and on about different things in her life. This strange creature amused me but I let it.

 
When the meal was over, Maria said that she would teach me something new and I gladly accepted. She took her clothes off until she was completely naked. The lamp shone on her nakedness like the sunset of the Tsavo. The she cautiously got my clothes off too while looking deep into my eyes like she was looking for approval. I let her have her way. A few minutes later, I had proudly had my first sexual encounter.

 
I did not have much use for money so the morning Maria left, I handed her ten thousand shillings and told her to use it since we were friends now. She accepted gladly and did that naked thing for me another time before she hurriedly left. We made plans to see each other later in the evening where she promised she would teach me something else.

 

 

 

The same day, I got another contact from a woman who wanted her husband gone forever. As usual I was not concerned about the reasons why she wanted her husband dead so I asked for details like where he would be, an image of him and all that shit. I was determined to finish this assignment fast and join Maria later in the day. When I got to the location directed by the wife who wanted her husband gone, it was a function. The husband was launching his new flats that he had built with his wife and now they were ready for tenants. It was an easy job, I let the function terminate before I met the husband in the restrooms, told him that his wife had decided to let him join the dead and put two bullets, one on his head and the other to his heart to make sure he would never wake up and left him face down in the toilet bowl like he was hugging it and left. Let the dead take care of themselves; the Bible says something like that, I think. I was paid four thousand for this job.

 
I was late for the agreed meeting time with Maria, so when I got to the butchery, I was not surprised that she was not there. I asked around but nobody around seemed to know her. I decided to head home and see if she was home. It was dark when I got home and unluckily she was not there either. I blamed myself for getting late and fell asleep immediately. I had a very nice dream about Maria and her naked body which made me so happy.

 
The next day went on slow, too slow. When it was evening, I left the house to look for Maria. I was determined to apologize for the previous day. I wanted her back more than anything. I got to the small town centre just in time to see Maria vanish to a turn with another accomplice. I ran as fast as I could to get to her but eventually I decided to just follow them like I did with gazelle, deer and hare before pouncing on them unawares during hunting.

 
They walked to a house, which by the fact that it was Maria who opened the door, I assumed it was her house. It was tiny and spoke a tale of limited resources but still better than mine yet I felt sorry for her. I would have liked to give her everything good this life had to offer. They walked in with the man and I waited for about twenty minutes. When they did not come out, I decided to walk in myself and explain everything. Explain the reason I had been late for the hook up the previous day. I had it planned out in my head, everything I would tell her, yet cautiously leave the part about me killing people for a living.

 
When I go to the door, I could hear Maria’s voice, she was screaming all kinds of words beginning with her maker followed by all kinds of curse words. She kept screaming and I thought she was in trouble so I stormed into the house to the biggest disappointment of my twenty one years.

 
There she was doing out thing with another guy, both entirely naked and worse was that she seemed to be enjoying it more. They stopped the moment I stormed in. I could feel my anger rising like mercury in a thermometer. I could not comprehend why she was doing our thing with other people. Maria started to say something but stopped the moment I held the man’s neck with both hands and lifted him up like he was a cup of coffee.

 
He chocked. Maria begged. I was not listening to either of them. He spoke, he said something about Maria being a prostitute but I did not care. He had to die. He writhed like a worm until his legs relaxed. Maria screamed her lungs out. I threw the lifeless body away and headed for her neck too. When I caught her I felt something inside me, I hesitated. It was something I had never felt, not even when I watched my mother’s body lifeless on our living room. It was a weird emotion.

 
She tried to reach for something from the table, a kettle which she threw to my face missed and it landed on the floor splashing hot water to my left foot. The scorpion bite hated anything hot. It was painful too painful, I let her go and limped out of the house and ran.

 
I had never left any witnesses. She was the first one. I had to go, I had to leave the Central region to another region. I did not even bother to go pick my father’s guns. From now I did not need them, using my hands to finish my work had felt more gratifying. I ran into the forest to an uncharted region where Maria would not lead the police.

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

My clients still reach me. If someone wants you dead then you will die by my hands. I will not use a gun. Guns are too quick. I will use my hands and watch life escape your body like a treated plague and then leave you dead. Let the dead take care of themselves; the Bible says something like that, I think. I will get paid as low as four thousand for your life. One day I will get Maria. I know now that she is a hooker but she is still mine. I will let her body do things to my body and then I will kill her slowly and respectfully. No witnesses.

 

 

*

 

 

END

 

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

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Beneath a Suit

 

He gets to the office a little after eleven o’clock on a usual day. Usual days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Monday and Friday are special days, do not even get me started on Saturdays and Sundays. He puts on a suit but what intrigues me is what he has beneath that suit.

First is a smell. A lethal stench that appalls anyone within a twenty feet radius. It is the whiff of fermentation, staleness, anger, hate, boredom and crises. It is the scent of something unwanted and displeasing. A repulsive scent that suggests laziness, bad relationships, failure and neglect. It is the highlight, rather, a drift of the middle age. The smell of last night’s mistakes, arguments, unfaithfulness, overspending, disorganization, chaos and wastage. It is obnoxious.

Then there is his piled up paperwork on his desk. A desk that is accustomed to underutilization. The seat behind the desk stares into space, waiting and anticipating for something that never happens. The computer placed on the desk has its network cable disconnected and the power cable switched off. It is supposed to be processing files, serving customers, fulfilling the company’s mission and vision, instead, it just sits, disconnected from the global village, alone and isolated, feeling odd amongst its peers. The support stuff often dust the desk occasionally but the paperwork is not their jurisdiction so it breaths in all kinds of brown dust.

The first thing he does in the office is to send the guard for the day’s newspaper which he sits in the office for an hour going through. He likes being up to date with current affairs, one would think it is for the noble reason of being informed but a closer look reveals that the paper gives him arguing points amongst his mates in the course of the day. They sit by the office kitchen talking about history of politics and politics of history. Discussing trends, presidents, testosterone and girls.

After lunch is usually the peak of his day. He loudly boasts of the number of beer bottles he poured down his gut during the lunch period. His workmates listen in silence, the scornful ones responding in murmured silences. Deep down they know that he needs help but all of them are either to restrained or solely apathetic. He then engages the office ladies in a heated discussion accompanied in uncanny flattery. He boasts. He loves doing that shit. He thinks of himself as a personality infused with charisma, little does he know how many enemies he creates in every gratification he declares upon himself.

By the time the office clock stops at four, it finds only an after-scent of a combination of his inexpensive deodorant, his ego and his fermented lunch snack in the office. He has managed to get an intern to do his work as well as recruit a peer for an evening politics discussion over two or three. One turns to two then to three and four. By seven o’clock, the peer workmate leaves for his family just about the same time he asks for a half-litre KC vodka to spike his beer.

Eventually, it is only him, a table full of empty bottles and a lot of stories with no one to listen. The clock hits ten and he staggers out to the streets. He heads home to a family he rarely sees or speaks to. He eyes are red as crimson, knees weak as a fig tree, stomach empty as a temple on Friday night and a gut full of toxic death. He gets home on motorbike, barely holding on to reality.

On Fridays, he leaves home directly to his favorite seat by the beer shelves. He never goes home on Friday evenings, On Saturday he comes home, hungry and moneyless reeking of whatever girl got paid to do a job that must never be spoken of in broad daylight.

On Sundays, he is nowhere to be seen while on Mondays he lies on his bed until midday nursing a three-day hangover, occasionally quarreling with his wife or his children who lost trust in him. The people that once looked up to him but now look down on him, waiting and wondering when he will choke on his drink and give them peace because they lost the patience for change. Change is a mere mirage, mainly an outcome of false hope or pretense that never lasts long. People never change. Situations change, relationships too but people hide their wickedness burying the reality behind their dark pupils, but deep deep down, the devil reigns playing catch ball with his horned allies.

Tuesday is the start of this story.

He is a friend, workmate, brother, uncle, dad, cousin, grandfather, follower or ghost follower. We all have someone that needs to slow down on his drink. We don’t want him to do therapy, therapy don’t work on no black man, neither do we want him to join a support group because that’s a Western thing, yet we don’t want to lose him because as much as we have fangs and serpent poison on our tongues, we are still humans before we are anything else. Our cynicism is proportional to the number of times we have been disappointed hoping and praying that he will get better.

He never does, God hates alcohol so he even ignores all words that end in ‘hol’, he spams such prayers and it is then that we have to be little gods ourselves and show that our humanity goes beyond faith and hope. The popular and Iconic writer, Bikozulu, once said, “What they need is simple acts of love from people they care about”. Shove an alcoholic on your bosom and show him love and the alcohol will find the exit on itself. Get him a gift this Christmas that is not a bottle of whiskey or a bible and you will have planted a yearning of sobriety in him.

We all start drinking because it is fun in high school or in college. Turns out it is fun. Eventually, when college is over, a girl walks out on us, a job becomes too hard to obtain, a scar becomes too tough to rub off and life shows us utter callousness and we think to ourselves, maybe we need to have fun like we once did. Maybe we need a little inebriation so that we can reach our fun nerves that make the world soft like toffee and the music fulfilling as paradise. We set on a course that becomes difficult to abandon.

Now we drink when boss man fires us, when girlfriend leaves, when laptop breaks down, when the day becomes slow, when the day was too fast, when we are hungry, when we are full, when we have a lot of work, when we do not have work or any day we find ourselves alive. The scary part is that we cannot stop. Soon we have no any real human connection, yet a lousy job we hate, a toxic relationship, a minuscule salary and a lot of stories with no one to listen.

We are 45 years old now, life is no longer ahead of us but behind us. That is when we get to the office a little after eleven o’clock on a usual day. Usual days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Monday and Friday are special days, do not even get me started on Saturdays and Sundays. We put on a suit but what intrigues me is what is going to be beneath that suit.

 

Feature Image by Mukiri Gitiri

 

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Dennis Peters

 

 

Tabu, No!

love obsession

She had been there every day, same position, never moving, never getting bored of the same scenery. Same sitting posture, same type of dressing, red t-shirt and casual jeans. On a cold day she had a heavy red sweater. Her face had appeared stern to Tabu. And he had thought about her every day, gone to the same counter every single day perhaps to try and solve her as a conundrum he had never fathomed. But something attracted Tabu to her like unlike poles of a magnet like the bulb does to the moth. And he had hang around but never spoke to her, calculating and scheming, analysing and identifying but often Tabu wondered if she ever did notice him.

Tabu was a campus student in the growing town of Machakos. He lived in his own cubicle as many of his age mates, he spoke ate and drank his studies. He loved the smell of his books, they made him feel home because he never had one. When he was not studying he was playing for the school volley ball team because that was what his aunt had suggested. She had told him that he could read all the books in the world but without getting that connection with people he was bound to fail. Tabu had seen the truth in her aunt’s words. He had thought about them at night lying still in his thatched bed staring at grass roof. He had lay awake for long, too long.

His parents had passed away while he was still very young. His aunt had taken him in and brought him up as her own even when the pangs of poverty glared at their door and made them sleep hungry. Tabu loved his aunt as much as she loved him. The bond that existed among them was resilient past finances or food.

But that had been nineteen years ago. Tabu had done well in his final year at high school. He had been granted a scholarship by a local bank. Now he could pay for that cubicle at campus. He could buy a loaf of bread daily. But the bread had a string attached, he wanted to see her. He wanted to talk and touch her but seeing her was enough, for now. He longed to see her when she did her work as the cashier at Gilanis Supermarket. But beneath the surface he could see a demon buried beneath. He longed to know this demon and own it like a bad behaviour. He wanted to dress it daily so that it would give him the chance to know her. He did not know any other better way than demons.

Tabu observed her that evening. Her chocolate brown complexion was hot coffee on a cold day to him. Her hands were a good massage after a hard day in the office with a demanding boss. The way she licked her lips made the angels go rogue from heaven, come down and do a dougie with him on earth. And he knew he had to speak to her one day. Tabu had to open his mouth and make his lips move and address anything at her. Say something like she had good eyelashes or her ear-piercings were done by a thoughtful devotee, he just had to have something out of his mouth. He had to drink from the rivers of her voice. He was thirsty. His dryness was a headache pounding his head at unbalanced intervals. This yearning was bizarre.

Tabu picked his loaf and walked to the counter like always. A drop of sweat trickled subsequently from his brow but he did not stop walking. His legs felt like they would give in any moment but he was intoxicated with prospect. Then it happened! He saw her release an acknowledging smile at him. First he was not sure if it was a smile then his brain went on rampage with guesses. Perhaps she wanted him to speak to her, she had got tired of seeing the same face at the counter every day and she desired that this loaf guy spoke to him. Or maybe she smiled at all her clients. Tabu, No!

Tabu had finally done it, asked her when she left work and she had answered that she left work after ten minutes. Tabu had promised to wait outside, months of buying unnecessary bread had been enough foreplay. Tonight had to be the night but unknown to Tabu the clouds gathered together. The once ambitious woollen-like clouds had retreated and moved closer to form a dark nimbus cloud that now hang low, very low. The moon that had once glimmered with liberty now writhed behind the low cloud begging for attention. Tabu waited.

The lady had come to him with a smile he had never seen before. And she had offered him a hug, a payment for the months of staring without touching and he had felt her breast press against his warmly. The two twins that had made something shoot from his pants. They walked with no specific direction, they spoke without saying anything, their eyes met occasionally, she explained why she hated her job and he withheld information about his background. He tried to be as perfect as she was for her. But he still held his loaf in his hands.

Two deserving souls had found one another. Not even the darkness could hide the shimmer coming from them. The spoke of many things. Tabu talked of school, she spoke of work. She adored poetry, he had told her a memorized poem. It was paradise that had finally met heaven and the music played on in their souls.

She had suggested they go to her place for coffee and Tabu well aware of his cubicle’s condition had hurriedly agreed. And they had got to the two bed-room apartment. She had quickly rushed to the bathroom to freshen up and Tabu sat admiring her choice of art until his eyes were held hostage by a portrait. It was her, a man and a child. Tabu’s heart stopped.

He could not apprehend.

He threw caution to the wind and asked her above the rushing water from the bathroom who was that in the portrait. Casually she had replied that it was her family that lived upcountry in their small farm. The child was their daughter and they had been married for three years.

Tabu lost his mind.

He did not see his legs move to the kitchen, walk to the knife tray and grab a potato knife. There was no time to see his legs thud the bathroom door and hold her naked wet body with his right arm. Where was his eyes when his hands grabbed her neck and pressed and pressed? Pressed hard. Until something snapped. And now he stared at her lifeless naked body on the bathroom floor, the captivating behind and bust had lost their glamour, her lifeless face was pale, the water continued to flow. The water was red now, blood oozed from her mouth like a water sprinkler. Tabu looked at his hands and noticed he had not used his knife. The knife had to be used, otherwise why go through the trouble of getting it? He even did not see himself bury the potato knife right across his throat. Tabu, No!

Dennis Peters

Dennis Peters