(Continued from Agent 306 I)
“Is there a problem sweetheart?” Jackline asks.
“No babe,” Fred says quickly, and then turns back to the “house help”. “You look vaguely familiar, Mary. Have we met somewhere?”
“No, Baba Liam; I don’t think so. I have never left my village until I came to work here last week, and I don’t think I have ever seen you in my village.”
“Where is your village?”
“It is deep in the hills of Taveta, near the Tanzanian border.”
“No, I have never been there. I must be confusing you with someone else.”
“Sometimes people do look alike,” Jackline points out.
“Very true,” her husband agrees. “Thank you for the tea, Mary.”
“This girl is so nice,” Jackline tells her husband after Mary retreats to the kitchen. “I have had a very easy time since she came. I had a very rough time for two days after you fired Rhoda, and before Mary came.”
“I am sorry. It was not my intention to leave you without help. I just got furious that that girl Rhoda had the audacity to beat my son over food. Food, can you imagine!”
“No, it is okay, honey. I am not blaming you. You actually did me a favor, because I had planned to fire her that same day.”
Having worked as a house help, Jackline knows all about bosses from hell; but now as an employer, she has come to realize that some house helps are also from hell. Like the last two she had. The last one Fred fired, Rhoda, had an attitude bigger than the Everest. She didn’t want to do the work she was hired to do: she couldn’t mop the house or do laundry because she was “allergic cold water”; she couldn’t keep the house neat because “the baby will disorganize it anyway”; the food she cooked was horrible; she couldn’t soothe little Ivanna to sleep and she was always quarrelling Liam and Kyle. She was even rude and disrespectful to Jackline. The only person she seemed to have some respect for was Fred.
She had only stayed in Jackline’s house for three days, but Jackline was fed up and was getting ready to fire her. But she was preparing herself emotionally because she knew that the dismissal would degenerate into a shouting match. But the burden was lifted off her shoulders in the most dramatic way. Rhoda would always behave herself whenever Fred was in the house. But immediately he left for work, she would draw her attitude from the closet and wear it with even more attitude.
On the morning that Fred was leaving for his business trip to Cairo, Rhoda prepared breakfast for him and even wished him a good day as she had done on the two previous mornings. When she heard him drive out of the compound, she put on the beast mode and started shouting at the boys, who were getting ready for school. Jackline was in the bedroom dressing up and telling herself that she had had enough. She was going to fire the girl. Suddenly she heard a loud slap, and Kyle started screaming. Jackline jumped out of the bedroom to go and confront the girl, but she found Fred already there. Apparently he had forgotten his passport in the house, and had parked outside the gate to come for it. That is why Rhoda did not hear him approach. At that precise moment when he opened the door is when Rhoda slapped the boy, apparently because Kyle took three slices of bread instead of two that she had told him to take. She wanted to have more slices of bread than everyone else, and Kyle was ruining the plan.
Fred did not even talk to her. He was more furious that Jackline had ever seen him in the seven years she has known him. He grabbed Rhoda by the back of her neck and threw her out of the house. Then he stormed into the bedroom she had been using, took her bag and stuffed her scanty possessions in it. He threw the bag at the girl, who was hurling insults from the driveway. Fred paused and stared at her for a few minutes and then started advancing towards her. She read his mood correctly and fled the compound.
For two days, Jackline did not have a house help. It was tough. Her first born, Liam, is five years old and is in PP2; Kyle is three years old and has just joined the play group. And Ivanna has just turned one. It was a tough ask for her to prepare the boys for school, take care of Ivanna, keep the house neat, prepare dinner for herself and the kids and still manage her business, especially with her husband away in Cairo. If he had been around he would have helped her with some of the house chores, as he has done in the past. But he wasn’t, so she had to do it all. Still, she did not complain. She reminded herself that God has been so good to her and her family.
And then God proved his faithfulness even further by bringing Mary to their household.
“How was your trip?” she now asks Fred. “How long does it take to fly from Nairobi to Cairo?”
“The trip was successful. I got everything I wanted. Flying to Cairo takes about four hours. It is actually faster than going to Mumias by road.”
Fred is uneasy, but he tries his best to mask it because he doesn’t want Jackline to worry, or to start asking questions. He will have to find a way to get himself out of this mess. There has to be a way.
Fred stirs in his sleep, and slowly wakes up. Someone is stroking the nape of his neck. There is only one person who does that: Agent 306. That is how she announces her presence in his bed. Remembering that he is in his house, and not in a hotel room in Cairo, he suddenly becomes fully awake. He is in his bed, the king size bed that he shares with his wife. Jackline is sleeping peacefully on one side of the bed, the side of the wall. Agent 306, alias Mary, is on the other side of the bed, and he is between them.
“Have you gone mad?” Fred whispers anxiously. “Can’t you even respect my wife and our matrimonial bed?”
“If you do what is required of you, I will disappear and you will only be seeing me once a month as usual. But I have instructions to claim what belongs to the Grand Master, so for as long as you remain reluctant to sacrifice your son, I will stick with your family like a leech.”
“Don’t talk so loudly. My wife is not part of this and there is no reason for you to involve her.”
“Relax. She is sound asleep so she won’t hear you. But even if she wakes up, she can’t see or hear me. She will hear you mumbling incoherently and will probably think you are dreaming. But like I said, I have put her into such deep sleep that she won’t wake up any time soon. Anyway, tomorrow is Saturday. It is a perfect day to fulfil your obligations to the Grand Master.”
“How do I do that?”
“Take the boys for a drive. You can even take the whole family if you wish. There is a creek about a kilometer from here. You are going to drive into it, missing the bridge by a few inches. I will be waiting in the water to claim Liam for the Grand Master and to ensure the rest of you escape unhurt. The investigation will show that the brakes of the car failed, and the insurance company will give you a new one.”
“What if I don’t want to kill my son? I was duped into entering this arrangement. I was made to believe that sex was the only thing that would be required of me, and I have been servicing you faithfully in bed. I can’t do what you are asking me to. I cannot take the life of my own son. I want out of the fraternity. You can take your wealth. I am willing to go back to being a shamba boy, but with my son alive.”
“It is not that easy,” Agent 306 shoots back. “You have already enjoyed the fraternity’s generosity for five years. And it is for that reason that the Grand Master wants Liam. If you want to exit peacefully, you will have to show your gratitude to the Grand Master by giving him your son. If you do that, he will let you keep what you have now. But my services will be withdrawn, so you won’t expect to continue being as successful as you are now. But you won’t sink into poverty either. You will lead a decent life. But Liam has to die.”
“What if I don’t want to kill him?”
“In that case the Grand Master will take him by force, because the boy belongs to him now. And he will punish you for your ingratitude by taking your wife too, plus every material thing you own. You will go back to worse poverty than you left, and this time you will face the poverty without a wife and with a young son and a daughter to feed. You don’t want to test the wrath of the Grand Master, Fred. So, are you going to show your gratitude or not?
Image by Victor UzihBen from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/crying-african-man-crying-man-4670799/
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