(Continued from Encountering an Altar Wolf II)
Traffic starts moving before either of them can speak. They drive in silence for a while.
“You heard the man, Sheila. Do you want to proceed with this and lose your job, or do you want to take Deacon’s money and Simon’s offer for therapy?”
“This has become personal, Stella. If I die, I die. But I will not take their insults of settlements. But like you said earlier, this is my battle. There is really no reason why you should lose your job or even your life on my account. Let me fight this battle alone.”
“You know I can’t do that Stella. This is our battle, and we will fight it out together.”
She flicks the signal then exits the highway, and a few minutes later they are pulling into the hospital they had been directed to by the cop. The doctor who attends them is a pleasant middle aged man. He examines Sheila and then fills out the P3 forms.
“If I were you I would take photographs, and even make copies of this form,” he tells Sheila.
“I don’t know who you messed up with young lady, but this case is already becoming a hot potato. I have already received a call directing me to write a false report.”
Sheila stares at the report.
“But I can see you have written in your conclusion that my injuries are consistent with a rape attack.”
“My duty is towards my patients, not to my bosses. I wrote what my examination revealed. It really disgusts me when someone tries to use their power or influence to mess with other people. When I forward this report to the cops I will have done my part…”
“We are not the ones to take it?”
“No, by the time you leave I am sure they will have sent a detective to collect it. The sub-county criminal investigation officer in this area is very effective. He is a good man, but this might become too big for him. Anyway, I have done my part. And if they call me to testify, I will show up. But go and make a copy of that report and bring the original back to me, because it might disappear mysteriously. There is a printing bureau just outside the hospital.”
“Thanks doctor. I really appreciate,” Sheila says as she takes the report from him.
Martin Kima looks at the tiny file and smiles at himself. He often wonders how he ever became a SCCIO. It is not that he doubts his abilities-he knows that he is probably the finest detective the Directorate of Criminal Investigations has. But he also knows that his politics are not always right, and playing internal politics is always a major factor in upward mobility. But he is a man of steadfast faith, and he believes that it is God who has brought him to this point.
The one thing that his wrong with his politics within the Directorate is the fact that he doesn’t always follow orders that he believes will result in an injustice being committed against anyone, but most especially against the poor. He grew up in poverty, and he had watched in frustration as his father was taken to jail on trumped up charges, and with horror as his mother and siblings were hacked to death by hired goons. All this was done, he believes, by a wealthy relative who wanted their land. Most of Kima’s uncles, his father’s brothers, had sold their land on the cheap to that relative to finance their drinking habits, but Kima’s father had refused.
Kima’s father was accused of being part of a gang of robbers that had robbed the house of another tycoon in the neighboring village. He was arrested and remanded. Of course they could not afford a lawyer, and the lawyer that he was assigned by the state never showed up in court. In the end, after three years of mistrial, Kima’s father was sentenced to hang.
But the relative had misjudged Kima’s mother’s strength, and she valiantly fought for both her husband and the family land. Whenever the lawyer failed to show up in court, she would raise hell. Whenever her brothers-in-law mentioned the title to the land, she would go ballistic. She was a mother hen on the warpath. But then one night their house was attacked by thugs while they slept. Kima was the only one outside, sitting in the moonlight and thinking about his father. He and his father used to sit at this very same spot, silently watching the stars as his father smoked his cigarettes. Suddenly a group of men emerged from the bushes and went straight to the house. They did not see Kima, who was seated on the edge of the maize plantation.
They kicked open the door and entered. They dragged out Kima’s mother and siblings, who were screaming now, and hacked them to death in the moonlight. The thugs seemed to have only one mission: to kill. Kima was too frightened to scream and he slunk deeper into the maize bushes. Kima’s mother and siblings died that night. He was six years old at the time.
He was taken in by an aunt on his mother’s side, a widow with six children, and she is the one who brought him up. She was not wealthy, but she managed to put him and all her children through school, at least until form four. Kima had wanted to become a lawyer so that he could fight for the rights of his father, and to find justice for his mother and siblings. He was determined to get his father out of prison. He was sure that his father was innocent: on the night he was accused of robbery, they had sat in the darkness, since there was no moonlight that night, for hours saying nothing but enjoying each other’s company nonetheless. And when he woke up early the following morning, early because he aspired to be like his father, the man was waiting for him with a bucket so that they could go and milk their only cow. There is no way his father could have been out robbing that night. His father was not a robber, and he was sure he would prove it once he became a lawyer.
But his father died in prison when Kima was in form four, a couple of months before he sat for his KCSE exams. He was not hanged: he just fell ill, was denied proper medical care and he died. Kima was devastated. During holidays he had been visiting his father in prison almost on a daily basis, and after each visit his resolve to become a lawyer was strengthened. It was a dream within reach: he was top of his class from form one to form four.
But his father’s death disoriented him. As he reeled in pain and shock, he lost his focus in academics and his grade reflected that: a boy who was expected to make the A grade did not even make the B+ grade that was the cut off mark for government-sponsored university education. The school principal told him to repeat form four because he knew he had performed below his capacity. But Kima knew that his aunt was struggling to educate him and his cousins, even though she never complained. He declined, determined that he would work out his own path in life somehow.
An opportunity arose for him when police recruitment came around. Even though he had always been a studious boy, Kima was also a good athlete. He was his school’s first choice goalkeeper in football, and he was also the school cross country champion. He was told that the police would not accept his B plain certificate, because he would be deemed ‘too clever’, but he was determined to try his luck. He went to the field and ran like he had never run before. He was the first of the lot by some distance. He passed all the other physical tests.
He was recruited.
Now, seventeen years later, he is a fine detective, the leader of all detectives in the sub county. In the early years of his life as a police officer, he was consumed by anger and resentment. That is what drove him. But then he got saved, and he realised that bitterness would serve him no good. That is when he started asking himself the larger questions about purpose. He had grown up wanting to be a lawyer so that he could help his father. Does that mean that after the death of his father his life had lost meaning?
He realised that although he did not become a lawyer, and although it was too late to help his father, he could use his position to help others. That is also when he swore that that his investigations would never be swayed by his bosses. He has suffered for it. He has been promoted, then demoted; he has been sent to remote stations; but somehow, he is here today, as a SCCIO in one of Nairobi’s sub-counties.
The thin file in front of him is the kind that gives him an adrenaline rush: he has already been warned by the CCIO that the “powers-that-be” want this file “buried”. Kima knows that chances are high that the CCIO himself is those powers; that he has been paid to kill the investigation. This CCIO is not a bad man per se; Kima has seen worse men within the directorate. But he is a system man with ambitions. He might block his (Kima’s) path, not out of ill-will, but because his interests might dictate that he does so.
But Kima usually doesn’t care about such things. He takes out his phone and calls the one detective that he trusts with such assignments.
“Hi Liz, where are you?”
“I am in the house boss.”
“I want us to go hunting.”
“What’s up boss?”
“There is an arrest to be made. You and I are going.”
“You are going? What is going on boss? What kind of case is this?”
“It is a rape. But it is a hot potato, the kind that might get me demoted to a constable and sent to Kapedo. But don’t worry, nothing will happen to you. I will take the fall.”
“Don’t worry about that boss. You know I got your back. See you in a bit.”
Having completed the medical tests, Sheila decides to go home and freshen up. The doctor gave her a pain reliever, and physically she is feeling better. But emotionally, there is storm brewing within her that might take years to heal, if at all. Stella insists on driving her to her house. When they get to the house, however, they are taken a back. The front door is closed, but not locked. Yet Sheila remembers locking it. When they enter the house and see the chaos in the sitting room, Sheila releases an involuntary scream. Sofas have been overturned and apparently cut up with a sharp blade. The TV has been removed from the wall and smashed to the floor. The whole place is chaos. Stella leads the way to the other rooms, and it is the same case: clothes torn and strewn about; mattresses cut up.
“Deacon has really shown his hand,” Stella says finally.
“What do we do?”
“We go back to the police station and make a report.”
“You think they will catch whoever did this?”
“I wouldn’t bet on it, but reporting to the police is still a good idea.”
“Come on, let’s go then.”
“We can go to my place afterwards. You need to rest, after everything that has happened to you today. You can take my guest room.”
“Assuming they have not been there too.”
“Yeah, there is that part too. But there is only one way of finding out.”
Evening finds Sheila and Stella in Stella’s house, preparing dinner as they chat. After filing the report, they came to Stella’s apartment, which they mercifully found in order.
“I really don’t think those cops will help us,” Sheila says morosely. “I think they have all been paid.”
“Maybe. But we have to keep up the faith. Remember what the scripture says in Romans? ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ I choose to believe that God will fight this battle for us.”
“I don’t know Stella. I just…”
Before she can complete her thought, the lights go off and they are engulfed in darkness.
“Don’t worry. The estate has a backup generator. It should come up any moment…”
The sound of heavy footsteps stops her midsentence.
“Yeah, I heard that too. There is someone else in the house.”
Suddenly two flashlights go on simultaneously and they have to shield their eyes from the sudden glare.
“You know sometimes it is just a good idea to make peace when it is offered,” a gruff masculine voice says. “Now you will just have to die for nothing.”
The intruders have focused the lights away from Stella and Sheila, and the two women can now make out the silhouettes of two men. As the male intruders advance toward them, Sheila and Stella simultaneously start screaming.
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