(Continued from Father Wood V)
Movement from outside distracts Melvin, and the bullet misses Joshua by an inch. The bullet hits the wall then ricochets to the bed. Joshua and Teresa are frightened because they now know that Melvin means business. Then they see it again. Movement out there in the shadows, behind Melvin. Melvin turns and aims the gun outside. Is it the cops or is the rest of the gang? With nothing to lose, Joshua decides to buy time to stop Melvin from shooting in quick succession.
“You know why I insist on using toy guns, Melvin? It is because of stupidity like this. You just alerted everyone that you have a gun and have probably used it. Imagine if there are cops on patrol. You will not get out of here,”
Melvin aims the gun back at Joshua.
“You are betting on police patrol to save your skin? Won’t happen. Not happening buddy, by the time any cop comes here, you will both be dead. Whatever you saw outside is probably a dog,”
“Then you will be a man on the run until they catch you. Because they will catch you,”
“I…” before Melvin can finish his sentence, someone grabs him from behind and places cold metal on the nape of his neck. Melvin has no doubt that it is a gun.
“Drop the gun son,” a voice stays from behind. Melvin hesitates then throws the gun on Teresa’s bed. He knows the heroics of beating cops only exist in movies. Besides, he is a coward, and he knows it. Yes, he is capable of killing an unarmed person. But he had rather wet his pants than engage in a gunfight, least of all with the police.
He is standing just inside the door. The bedsitter hardly has space for more. The policeman’s body is largely outside, although he is close enough for Melvin to feel the smell of his uniform.
The policeman handcuffs Melvin and asks him to turn around.
“Do you have a license for this gun, son?”
“Then you are under arrest for illegal possession of a firearm. We will investigate and find out what else we can charge you with. There must be something.”
He pulls Melvin out of the house into the darkness, where his two other officers are waiting.
“Get the gun from the bed,” he barks at one of the younger officers.
Brian knows he is going to jail. Even if they don’t nail him on the rape, they will nail him for handling stolen property. Or the most straightforward of them, illegal possession of a firearm.
Either way Joshua will fix Teresa, and if he doesn’t, then Melvin will do it. She should pay for betraying him. Melvin is a real man. In fact, they are thinking about breaking away from Joshua’s gang of “sissies”. They want real action, so they are in the process of joining another “more serious” gang. They want to rob places where they can get away with millions, even if it means shedding blood in the process. They find Joshua’s insistence on not hurting anyone foolish. That is why the man is in his thirties and still poor. By the time he (Brian) and Melvin hit thirty, they will either be millionaires…or dead. Melvin followed Joshua to ensure he would do the necessary and get Brian out of jail.
“I am going to disappear for a while,” Joshua says.
He has escorted her to Karen, and they are standing just outside her aunt’s gate. They took a matatu to Galleria, then a taxi to Hardy shopping centre, then walked the rest of the distance.
“Where are you going?”
Joshua hesitates. He has already told this girl too much. Why? He knows the answer but is finding it difficult to admit it. He is probably, for the first time in his life, falling in love. With a girl he met only a couple of hours ago. Joshua remembers the words of his mentor very vividly.
The day you fall in love is the day your fall will begin. Once you fall in love, you become vulnerable. And whoever you are vulnerable to can destroy you. It is okay to want a woman, and even have one. Sleep with her and even have children with her. But you must never tell her what you do. That is why you must never fall in love. If you have a woman, it is important that you be able to shut out one part of your life from her. And that can only happen if you don’t fall for the trap of love.
His mentor had three wives and a total of eight children. None of the women knew the others existed. The fact that he had three wives did not stop him from sleeping with cheap prostitutes and having casual flings with female bar attendants. Joshua has never slept with a woman, although there have been many women who have desired to sleep with him over the years, and whose bodies he lusted over. But he could never allow himself to live a life of deception in matters love. So he has remained single and a virgin.
But now he is falling in love, and his mentor was right. It feels wrong to lie to Tess. If his mentor was right, then she will be the end of him. The same mentor fell in love with a bar attendant, against his own advice, and she betrayed him to a rival gang. His body was found in a ditch with seven bullets on the chest. The gang scattered, and that is when Joshua formed his own.
“I have a house in Kamulu. My gang members do not know about it. I even have a restaurant in Ruai. It doesn’t make much profit though, that is why I have to keep stealing. I opened the restaurant so that my neighbors don’t ask too many questions about my source of income. Anyway, I am going to stay in Kamulu for a while taking care of my chicken and watch over my restaurant until the police forget about me,”
“They are not looking for you, Joshua. If they are, why didn’t those cops arrest you alongside Melvin?”
“They are not looking for me now, but tomorrow they will be looking for me. Melvin and Brian will squeal. The good thing is, they know very little about me. They don’t even know my second name. They don’t know where I live. They only know my shanty in Rongai and by tomorrow I will have some homeless person staying there as if he has always lived there. They won’t tell the Police anything that will help them find me. I have never killed anyone or robbed more than three hundred thousand shillings per raid so I am not the type of criminal that the police pay a price to catch. So if I stay underground for a couple of months, they will forget all about me. Unless the one person who knows all about me sells me out,”
“Who is that?”
“You. I have told you things in the last two hours that I have never told anyone. You know both sides of my life, something that nobody knows. Including my sisters. For some reason I feel so comfortable talking to you. Anyway, I have to go now. Can I hug you goodbye?”
She hesitates. He is the first man to ask for permission to touch her. But she was raped by a friend just yesterday, so she is wary. Besides, Joshua is still a criminal, even by his own admission.
“It is okay, I understand why you would be uncomfortable about hugging. Go on inside, I want to know you are safe before I leave.”
She heads towards the gate, then changes her mind. She walks back and opens her hands to receive his hug. He pulls back slightly and looks at her face under the shadows caused by the light falling on trees from the security lights. She fears that he will force a kiss on her. Right now even the thought of any form of sexual contact is disgusting to her. He doesn’t kiss her. Instead, he strokes her cheek gently with his thumb.
“Take care of yourself Tess. I don’t want anything to happen to you. Call me in case of anything,” he says, then releases her and gives her his number.
Once she is safely inside the compound, he disappears into the darkness.
As she walks towards the house, she cannot stop thinking about Joshua. She felt so safe in his arms. He did not violate her like other men. Just after High School, she had a boyfriend called James. He was the secretary of their church youth group. Whenever he hugged her, his hands would roam to her backside. One day, while they were on a youth trip to Mombasa, he tried to fondle her breasts under water. She had slapped him and ended the relationship there and then, even quitting the youth group. The other men were her father and uncle. And Brian.
She knows it is too early to tell, but she likes the fact that he respects her as a person. She fears that she is falling in love. Perhaps she is feeling that way because he played savior when Melvin appeared. But she cannot fall in love. Why should she believe anything he said? He is after all, a criminal. And she only met him today because he was coming to harass her. Her heart wants him, but her head is screaming a big No!
Her aunt opens the door and gives her a big hug. Over a mug of hot chocolate, Teresa tells her about Melvin and Joshua, trying to make it sound like Melvin was the violator and Joshua the savior.
“So who came first, Melvin or Joshua?”Juliet asks.
“So he was coming to hurt you and stopped when he recognized you,”
“He is also a criminal Tess. How many other girls has he hurt because he did not know them?”
“He does not hurt people auntie,”
“Did you expect him to tell you he does? Look Tess, all these men should learn it is not okay to harass women. Brian and Melvin are in the cells and I will make sure they rot in jail. We will also make your father and uncle pay, and tomorrow you will help me and the police find this Joshua. He is a criminal and also needs to pay.”
“I don’t know where he lives,” she says weakly.
Her aunt smiles.
“Yes you do, my dear. It is written all over your face. I know you probably think you should protect him because he saved you. You might even be having a crush on him. But he is a criminal and needs to go to jail.”
Tess cannot sleep that night. Her aunt is making perfect sense, of course. And she cannot be seen to be ungrateful to a woman who is helping her. But she cannot bring herself to betray Joshua either. He sounded so sincere.
She decides to call him and warn him that she might betray him tomorrow.
“It is good you have called Tess. I would have called but I don’t have your number,” Joshua says. He sounds weak. “Melvin and Brian are not in the cells. One of the cops helped them escape. They are working with a larger gang, apparently paid by your uncle. They have shot me and left me for dead. I think they are coming to your aunt’s house to kill both of you. Tell your aunt to seek help from higher up. The local cops are working with these people.
“Joshua, are you okay?”
“I will be okay if you are safe. Run to your aunt. Now!”
Teresa jumps out of bed and enters her aunt’s bedroom without knocking. She breathlessly tells her aunt what Joshua had said.
“We are safe her…”
Before she can finish, the anti-burglar alarms go off. The two giant dogs bark and growl, and two gunshots go off. Both dogs yelp then go silent. As Juliet tries to find her phone, another bullet goes off, followed by the shuttering of glass. The thugs are already in the compound.
END OF FREE BLOG SERIES. As I told you earlier, this story is long so I wrote is as a novella. The whole book is now ready so you can read the whole story for only 100 bob. For those who have followed the series, you will start reading from Chapter 4. You have already read chapters 1-3. There are two ways of getting a copy of the book:
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