Brutus IV-By Edward Maroncha

(Continued from Brutus III)

The flight from Eldoret International Airport to Bujumbura International Airport takes under two hours because a direct flight has been recently introduced. Julius finds Marie and Brutus waiting for him in Burundi’s former capital, alongside the pastor of the Bujumbura church. Reverend Pierre Nyamoya is a short, learn, and very earnest man. He is not very charismatic, but he is an honest servant of God and a very solid administrator. Julius has already appointed him to be the overseer of the two Burundi Tabernacles and tasked him with the mandate of exploring the expansion of the church in Burundi.

“Welcome to Burundi, sir,” Reverend Nyamoya says with a broad smile as the Bishop approaches.

“Thank you, Pierre,” Julius replies warmly. “It is always a pleasure to come to your beautiful country. I am told that today I will not benefit from the hospitality of your lovely wife.”

Whenever he is in a country or town where his church has a presence, Julius usually avoids hotels and stays at the house of the overseer of that country or the pastor of that town’s tabernacle. That is a habit he and his late wife Ruth developed, and it became a self-imposed rule when they realized that these pastors find it an honor to host their Bishop, however small their houses are.

The most memorable incident happened about fifteen years ago. The Bishop and his late wife Ruth traveled to Eldama Ravine to fellowship with the local tabernacle. The pastor of the Eldama Ravine church, Rev. Henry Koech, lived with his wife Irene in a one-bedroom house. They did not have any children yet as they were newly married. Koech and his wife decided to move to a congregant’s house, in the same estate, so that the Bishop and his wife could use their house. When Julius realized the inconvenience that they were likely to cause the couple, he protested and insisted they should find a local hotel to spend the night.

But Ruth realized that the pastor and his wife would get hurt, so she persuaded her husband to accept the offer. The pastor and his wife were delighted. They kept the Bishop and his wife company and prepared their meals but when the time to sleep came, they went to their neighbors’ house.

Reverend Koech is now the Senior Pastor of the Eldoret church and is also the overseer of the north rift region. He and his wife are the current hosts of the Bishop, but this time around they did not have to move because they have a spacious house. Over the years, they bought a piece of land on the outskirts of Eldoret and built a four-bedroom house.

Being hosted by pastors is one of the reasons why Marie does not like traveling with her husband. She prefers to stay in hotels, even though the church budget only pays for three-star hotels and below. But whenever she cannot find a reason not to travel with the Bishop, she pretends to like the arrangement and even assists the host pastor and his wife (or husband, if the pastor is a woman) with the preparation of meals.

“Yes, Bishop. We would have loved to host you once again but I am advised that it would be best if you stay in Gitega. However, you can still pass by my place for dinner before you proceed to Gitega. My wife has prepared a meal for you.”

“The Bishop needs to rest, pastor,” Marie cuts in quickly. “It is important that he gets to Gitega on time so that he can have ample time to rest. Tomorrow is a long day. Besides, there is already food prepared for him at the house in Gitega. You know that.”

“Whose house is it? I thought I was told the yet-to-be-ordained pastor of Gitega has not yet fully settled?”

“That is true,” Brutus says smoothly. “But since we are aware that you do not like hotels, we got an Airbnb for you. It is a lovely house with a lovely home feeling. You will love it.”

“Airbnb is still a kind of hotel, Brutus. What makes a home is not a building but the people in it. I would prefer to stay in Pierre’s house than in some isolated rental house. Besides, do you know that Pierre’s wife Janvière makes the best dishes in entire Burundi? We are all spending the night in Pierre’s house, so Pierre please take us home.”

“But…” Marie begins.

“The decision has already been made, my love. We are spending the night at Pierre’s house. Pierre, you can accommodate all of us, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Bishop. We have room for everyone.”

“Sir, that is not the problem,” Brutus begins. “The problem is that we had planned to begin tomorrow’s program with prayers at six in the morning.”

“That is not a problem. We will leave at five in the morning. The last time I checked Pierre was a fast driver. He will get us there in an hour.”

“I understand why you want to spend the night at Pierre’s house,” Marie says softly, expertly masking the anger, bitterness, and hatred that she is feeling within her. “But please also remember that we have a schedule that we are trying to adhere to. If you don’t want to travel tonight, then at least allow Brutus and me to drive to Gitega so that we can ensure that everything is set for tomorrow.”

“Is my wife asking me to allow her to abandon me and drive into the dark with a younger man?” Julius asks, laughing. Everyone laughs, understanding it for the joke it is. But Brutus and Marie’s laughter is forced. “No sweetheart. I don’t see the point of you traveling at night. If you haven’t made arrangements by now, then the conference is messed up.”

“We already have, Bishop,” Brutus says quickly. “Your wife is referring to the final touches that are important to an important event like this one.”

“Delegate that to Pierre’s men and women who are already in Gitega. If they need to consult then they can make use of their mobile phones. Tonight we are dining and fellowshipping with Pierre and Janvière. Come on, let’s go.”

Marie, Brutus, and Michael, Julius’s assistant, sit at the back of Pierre’s vehicle, while Julius sits at the front. Pierre drives. As they drive, Julius and Pierre are engaged in small talk. Michael, Brutus, and Marie are silent.

“Your kids must be all grown now,” Julius tells the Burundian.

“Oh yes, they are. Janvière and I are empty nesters now. Danielle, our firstborn, graduated from the university and works in Gitega. She is one of the organizers of the conference and will be a founder member of that church. Aimée, the second born, also graduated and works here in Bujumbura. Our last born, Ernest, is still at the university. He got a scholarship and is studying at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.”

“That is so fantastic. It is just the other day when they were babies. They grow up so fast.”

Julius has known Pierre for many years. Pierre is also a product of the Youth League Convection. He attended one of the earlier editions of the convection, one that was held in Nairobi. He gave his life to Christ in the convection, and he was one of those who were selected by the discipleship team to share their testimony in the convection. His story mesmerized the Bishop who requested that the young man be brought to him.

Julius and Pierre became friends, and Julius became Pierre’s mentor. When Pierre graduated with a degree in political science, Julius assisted him to get a work permit and then hired him as his personal assistant, just as Michael currently is. When Pierre told Julius that he was feeling a pull into church ministry, Julius quickly enrolled him in a Bible school and gave him flexible working hours so that he could study. When he graduated, Julius hired him as the youth pastor.

When an opportunity came to open a church in Bujumbura, Julius naturally sent Pierre to lead that church. Pierre’s church currently has two thousand four hundred members. Julius and Ruth were the best couple at Pierre and Janvière’s wedding. It was Julius who dedicated and later baptized all their three children. It should not have come as a surprise, therefore, that the Bishop would insist on spending the night with his younger friend. Brutus and Marie miscalculated.


Marie’s mind is spinning. Her plans have been thrown into disarray, but Marie does not give up easily. She is already scheming and planning, figuring out a way in which she can turn the new situation to her advantage. She has a small bottle with the pills with her. She has been carrying it in her handbag since they were delivered by a Chinese contact about two months ago. Her handbag is the one place where she is absolutely sure that nobody would see it.

The plan was that she would deliver it to her Burundian contact immediately after they got into Gitega so that he could find a way of slipping the pills into the Bishop’s food. The three pills, used together, are supposed to cause a heart attack, followed by a brain hemorrhage, and then death. They are undetectable in the body after one hour in the bloodstream, which is why it is important to ensure that the patient doesn’t get to the hospital within four hours.

That last part will be tricky in Bujumbura. First, there is a major mission hospital about ten minutes’ drive from Pierre’s house. Second, in Gitega they had a plan to ensure that no car would be available in the compound when the Bishop fell ill. Their Burundian contact had made plans to ensure that the nearest hospital wouldn’t have an ambulance ready for at least five hours. Here in Bujumbura though, they do not have a way to quickly disable Pierre’s car. And even if they do, the Bishop can still be carried to the hospital on foot in under half an hour.

Still, that is a minor risk. Even if doctors find the chemical in Julius’ food, which will still be sitting in his stomach, they will not be able to recognize it, leave alone cure it. The drug is a traditional Chinese poison that has no known antidote. In liquid form, it starts embedding itself into human cells on contact and quickly finds its way to the bloodstream. By the time doctors find it, a small portion will have seeped through the lining of his stomach and into his cells, and that will be enough to kill him. There is no antidote. Even the Chinese have not figured out a way to stop it once it gets into the body.

Once the strange chemical is discovered, foul play will of course be suspected. But if they suspect anyone, it will be Janvière, Pierre’s wife, who prepared the food that the Bishop ate. Maybe Pierre will also be dragged in as a co-conspirator. Their Burundian ally will again come in handy. He will help to bribe police officers and judicial officers to ensure that Pierre and Janvière are jailed. That will be a nice way to punish that idiot Pierre, who has ruined the otherwise carefully planned strategy.

 (This is the last free chapter of this story. To find out what became of the Bishop and his daughter, kindly follow the instructions below to grab your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100.)


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