It was a Sunday afternoon, nothing could go wrong on that May 5th. Kitana was free, he had given up his criminal lifestyle. He had even gotten baptized. No one had seen that coming, not even his own brother. That is why Kitana was up for a special welcoming back at home. As he and his brother walked down the village path headed for home, recounting tales of when they were young adventurous boys, a black sedan crept up slowly behind them. Then it was over before it even started. All Kitana had was enough time to push his brother down to the ground, as he met his fate at the end of a gun barrel. In a quick succession, there was a loud bang, a screech of tires and a lifeless, headless body on top of the younger boy. The horror. The shock. The denial. He couldn’t believe it. He knelt there, tears streaming down his face and bore his heart out to grief. After a while, there was but one thought in his head. A clear concise course of action.
I will avenge. I will avenge. I will avenge. Many, many days later, he was holding the gun…
She stared at the barrel of his gun as she fell down to her knees.
“You do not have to do this.” Tears strung her eyes as she said this.
He breathed deeply aiming the rifle at her skull. The demons inside his head were aroused again. They wanted him to finish the job. They wanted him to avenge.
“I wish that were true.”
Cold sweat ran down her spine. How did it all get here? After all those dates they had been? He had been her idea of a perfect date. Had all this been a game? She had always felt safe when they were together. She saw herself in him when they talked about stuff and that’s why she had opened up to him. Now here they were, her hands tied behind her, legs tied together pleading for her life in a dark room that reeked of every smell from marijuana, alcohol and a stinking smell of urine.
She remembered that blissful Friday evening when they had just met. It had been a hectic day filled with activities from her classes. She was going to make her daddy proud. Mwende had never been a party animal; her ideal Friday nights were being curled up in bed with a good novel and a big mug of coffee. Having broken up with her boyfriend over a year ago, she had never considered dating soon. She always told herself that she was working on herself first. She declined any offer from numerous guys.
Their hands met while reaching for the same book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
“Aha! She’s pretty and she reads too,” he said. She looked up to see his face, but only briefly.
“You know that’s a cheesy pick up line, right?” she said moving along the large shelf, she had gotten to the book first.
“Is it? I honestly thought it was bomb.”
“No it isn’t. Please don’t use it again to try to get a girl talk to you”
“Ok, how about, hey I am Karani and I am pleased to meet you?”
“Well, there’s some improvement in there but we’ve just met and you’re pleased? I must be a delight to be around.” She said smugly.
“You know, it wouldn’t hurt if you told me at least your name.”
“You might be a kidnapper who’s just confirming details or worse, a killer.”
“Yeah right. Because kidnappers go around asking people they have just met in book stores for their names.”
“Ha-ha! I wouldn’t know since I am not one. I don’t know their ways.”
“Ok! I am Mwende and I am not pleased to meet you.”
She took the book that had stirred up this conversation and proceeded to pay. Karani had a copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird and stood behind her in line. They were just the two of them. They continued with their small talk while they paid up.
“How about you give this kidnapper your number and he’ll call you later to ask for your specific location to kidnap you? That’s our way”
She liked the fact that he was funny. He read too, so she gave him a plus. She gave him her contact but she knew she would just block him when he texted, it wouldn’t be her first time. Or she would say something really dumb that he wouldn’t want to talk to her ever again.
Karani called her the next day. Small talk here and there, weather, how the book was, if she had arrived safe…And then he called the day after.
“Would you like to go grab coffee with me sometime? It would be in a public place so you can’t be abducted.” He asked
“Well, I would love to but I have a tight schedule.” She declined.
Karani however was persistent. He never texted her, just called. She didn’t know that such people still existed since a lot of relationships started, blossomed and ended via messaging on Whatsapp.
Finally she gave in and went out with him. It was the most magical had ever been to. Coffee, talk about books, wasn’t lost for words and didn’t try too much to make conversation. He walked her back to her hostels. They hugged goodbye and he left. Many dates followed after this and they really got comfortable with each other. They hang out together a lot, sent each other a lot of stupid texts and clips and long night calls (thanks to airtel tubonge).
She really liked him. It was the most honest thing she had felt in a while. Karani liked reading and writing and he even ran a blog. He introduced her to the many literal forums for young writers to grow their writing career. She looked forward to the forums since they would attend together and later hang out in the evening.
She had read wrong. She thought she knew him. She had no clue who he was.
“Karani please! You don’t have to kill me. Whatever it is I have wronged you can be resolved through conversation. Talk to me!!!”
“You don’t get it. Do you? ”
“Tell me what it is and we’ll talk it out like we always did when we disagreed.”
“We?” he asked mockingly moving around her still pointing at her with the gun. The demons in his head were getting louder by the minute. He looked crazy, disheveled and scruffy. His eyes shot out. His hair looked like he had stuck a finger inside an electrical outlet. Veins bulged and pulsed in his neck. Mwende had never seen him like this.
“Karani? We’ve been together for a year now. Please untie me and we’ll talk things over in a calm manner.”
“Calm huh! Was your dad calm when he blew off my brother’s brain in plain daylight? Tell me now, was he?” He asked angrily kicking her feet. His temperature was escalating. The voices, they were giving him a headache.
“What has this got to do with my dad?”She asked surprised.
“What has this got to do with your dad really? Ok, it has everything to do with your dad. Let me paint you a picture. It was the afternoon Kitana was coming home. We were all excited. After all these years, I was getting my big brother back. You see, he had just come from prison. He had served his sentence and had plans to testify about the big politician that had wrecked so many lives. It would be perfect, just like old times. Suddenly a black sedan, KAK 312P pulls up right beside us, as we head home. Kitana was shot right next to me. This is justice for my brother and all those people who have died in your dad’s hands, or you think I do not know that Mr Politician is your dad?
Karani let out a loud burst of maniacal laughter. The demons inside his head were clanging and banging. He was giving control over to them. He did not like to read at all. All he was bent to do was to avenge his fallen brother. He had learnt about his killer from the street urchins, after all, they heard and knew everything. He had learnt about ‘Mr Politician’s’ daughter. He had decided he would take her away the way Kitana had been ripped off from their lives. He had gotten her to trust her, to coincide her death exactly when he knew her father would be running for office again. He knew the greedy pig and his cronies would suffer politically. He loathed them. He had been patient with her. He had everything thought out. Tricked her into coming to the run-down shackle. But for the voices inside his head, the voices made him groggy, they made him sloppy. Sure about his Mocking Bird, he had sent word to the pig that he had killed his daughter. This he did with a traceable phone.
Mwende couldn’t believe her ears. So all this had been a game from the very beginning. She was a target from the moment they met in the bookstore. As if reading her thoughts, he chipped in. “I really liked you Mwende, I did. But you understand I have to do this right. I’ve got to have my Mocking Bird right? So, I am going to take away something so dear to him like he did to me so that we’re even.”
Just then, the wooden door was forced open and 5 police officers barged in.
“DROP YOUR WEAPON! GET ON THE FLOOR, NOW!”
Karani then realized his terrible mistake. At that moment though, a sudden wave of calm came over him. The voices disappeared. The police faded away. Inner peace. He knew there was no way he was getting out of there alive. He had to have his prey. He pulled the trigger just as the sniper atop a tall building meters away fired his shot too. The police team leader watched the lifeless body collapse as he barked commands into his walkie-talkie.