Domestic War IV-By Edward Maroncha
(Continued from Domestic War III)
Myles comes back to the sanctuary, where he had been making a call to his father-in-law, and finds the Hospitality Pastor, Rita, buying time by cracking jokes to the restless congregation. As the hospitality pastor, Rita is in charge of ushering, welfare and welcoming visitors to the church. Usually, it is Helena who welcomes to Myles to preach, but today there is a vacuum.
The church has six pastors: the youth pastor, Larry; the teens pastor, Matt; the Sunday school pastor, Olive; the hospitality pastor, Rita; Helena is the worship pastor, in addition to being the church administrator; and of course the Senior Pastor, Myles. There are three pastoral interns: Summer in the youth ministry, Hezron in teens and Lydia in hospitality. When the choir stopped singing, the chairman of the deacons’ board pointed out to Rita that she was the only pastor in the sanctuary: Larry, Matt and Olive are in the respective halls where the youth, teens and Sunday school congregate. Helena and Myles had of course walked out.
As Myles returns to the sanctuary and walks to his seat, Rita sighs with relief; she can now invite him to come and preach.
“Brothers and sisters, it is my pleasure to invite the man of God, our very own Reverend Myles Kinoro to come and share the word of God with us.”
That is what she is supposed to say. Those are the words that she has heard Helena reciting countless times as she invited her husband to preach. But the words refuse to leave her mouth. Rita’s smile has been masking a deep sense of loathing for the man, but now she is finding it difficult to control the hatred residing within her. Rita knows that Helena spoke the truth; she also knows that Summer is being used, and that she will be dumped when a younger, prettier girl comes along or when she gets pregnant. Rita knows this too well because she was once Myles’ victim; it seems that having sex with Myles is the only way a girl can retain a job in this church. The only difference between her and Summer is that she hated herself and Myles every time they had sex, but Summer seems to love the experience enough to be under the illusion that she is better than Helena.
Rita was in the first cohort of pastoral interns, alongside Larry and Matt. The church was sponsoring them to Bible School as well as paying them for the work they were doing in the church as interns. In that first cohort there was another lady called Mary who was supposed to take charge of the Sunday School, but she quit after two months. Rita knows only too well why Mary quit. The first month was smooth. Under the instructions of Myles, Rita was mentored in the hospitality ministry by Helena, and in the process the two forged a deep friendship. Mary was mentored in the Sunday School Ministry by Mrs. Sichale, the then church secretary and long serving leader of the Sunday School department. Larry and Matt were mentored by Myles himself. Everything seemed to be neat and proper.
Rita was very confused therefore, when Pastor Myles started sending her suggestive texts in the second month. All along she had viewed the senior pastor as an irreproachable Man of God. She ignored most of his texts, hoping that he would stop, but he only became more aggressive: he started calling. One day he showed up at her house at about seven in the night, wearing a hood. To date Rita has no idea how he found out where she lived.
He did not mince words that night: he wanted sex. Rita reminded him that he was married and that he was a pastor, but he would hear none of it. He made it clear that if she did not sleep with him, she would lose both her scholarship and her job at the church. Rita told him that he could take his job and scholarship if he so wished, but she would not commit sin with him. As a pastoral intern, she was earning a net salary of Kshs. 40,000.
Rita had always wanted to serve God as a pastor, but she did not have money to attend Bible school. When this church announced vacancies for pastoral interns, it was an answered prayer for her. But she was willing to quit and trust God to open another opportunity. True, she was scared about the future. Before she got the internship, getting two meals a day had been a struggle; but now she could afford to live decently and with dignity. She did not want to go back to her starving ways, but she did not want to offend God either. So she stood firm and told Myles to leave.
“You will regret this Rita.”
“I don’t care. Just get out.”
Rita suspects that Mary quit when Myles started sending her suggestive messages, and she wishes she had done the same. It would have saved her a lot of heart ache. The last time Rita got in touch with Mary, the latter had completed her theology studies and was pastoring a youthful Baptist congregation in Rongai. She was spared the agony that befell Rita.
That night, Myles rose as if to leave, but then he stood and grabbed Rita, then pinned her to the bed. Rita’s house was a bedsitter so the bed was right there. Rita screamed, but none of her neighbors came to rescue her. Myles tore away her clothes and raped her. When he was done, she expected him to dress up and leave. But he didn’t. Instead, he fell asleep beside her.
Rita lay on the bed weighing her options. The hatred she felt for the man was so intense that if she had been able to reach her cooking area, she would have taken a knife and stabbed him to death. But she did not have the strength to jump over him, since she was stuck between him and the wall. The pain in her private parts did not encourage movement anyway.
Suddenly there was a knock on her door. She ignored it. Whoever it was could not serious; when she had been screaming herself hoarse nobody came to her rescue. But now when she could already be dead he or she decides to turn up?
But the visitor was persistent, and eventually Myles woke up. Consciously or not, he rose from the bed, tied her towel around his waist and opened the door. Rita remembers being stunned when she heard her boyfriend Joel’s voice. She jumped from the bed, ignoring all the pain, and went to the door. It is only when she saw the pained look on his eyes that she remembered that she was naked, and that the man standing in front of her house was also naked. Before she could say anything Joel turned around and hurried away into the darkness.
“You are mine now, sweetheart,” Myles said with a sinister smile. He took her in his arms, carried her to the bed and raped her again as she sobbed softly.
Rita had been reflecting on the events of that day even as she awkwardly cracked jokes with the congregation while waiting for Myles to reappear. But now, seeing him seated in front of her while smiling fills her with hatred, and she reaches a decision.
“Church,” she says with a steady voice, even though she is shaking. “I want to thank you for the love and support that you have shown me in the seven years that I have served here. But I have not always been honest. I don’t think I am fit to be a pastor. During my time as a pastoral intern, Pastor Myles raped me and then blackmailed me into having an affair with him.”
The congregation releases a collective gasp. Rita waits for Myles to come and bully her off the pulpit, but he seems to be frozen in his seat. So she ploughs on.
“We were together for almost an entire year. But then I became pregnant and he ordered me to abort. I slept with him because I wanted to keep my job; and I aborted my baby for the same reason. After I healed from the abortion he did not bother me again, presumably because he found another lover. I will not waste any more of your time, people of God. I don’t think I am fit to be a pastor, because this is not supposed to be a job. It should be a calling. That is why I am quitting with immediate effect. If you want to continue being pastored by this philandering and monstrous rapist, that is your choice. As for me, all I am asking is that you find it in your hearts to forgive me, even though you will not see me around here anymore.”
She places the microphone on the pulpit and quickly walks out of the sanctuary. She walks to her Vitz Jewella and drives out of the compound. From the church gate to the tarmac road there is a stretch of dirt road that is about five hundred meters long. Rita is driving along this stretch when two men suddenly emerge from the bushes and stand in front of her car. They are both masked and armed. She is tempted to step on the accelerator and plough them down but she knows it won’t work so she stops.
One of them opens the driver’s door and yanks her out, sits behind the steering wheel, and steps on the brakes just as the car starts moving on its own accord. The other thug pushes her into the backseat and sits beside her, his gun firmly in his hand. The thug behind the wheel releases the breaks and the vehicle starts moving. Both men remove their masks, the clearest indication that they intend to kill her.
“You are a pastor, Rita,” the driver says when they are on the tarmac. “Surely you know that you cannot raise your hand against the anointed of the Lord. Don’t you know what David said about King Saul?”
“Myles sent you to kidnap me?”
“Nobody sent us. We know our mandate in scripture.”
“And what is your mandate?”
The thug looks behind for a second and grins at her.
“Do you know what King David told his son Solomon about that man Shimei who had insulted him?”
“Come on pastor. Read the Bible. He told his son that he should not let that scoundrel die a natural death. That is our mandate. Fortunately for us, you are a very beautiful woman, so we will get to have a little fun with you before we send you to your maker in the most unnatural of ways.”
Rita’s heart nearly jumps out of her mouth.
(This is the last free subchapter of this story. To find out what became of Helena and Rita, please follow the instructions below to purchase your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100).
Image by Public Domain Pictures from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/abstract-abstraction-acceleration-164329/
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