(Continued from For Better For Worse)
Ephraim frowns as he watches the two bimbos on the swimming pool of his deserted hotel. He doesn’t even know their names. It doesn’t matter. They have generic names anyway: Sherry, Cherry, Sandra. Kate, etc. Perhaps not even their real names. There was a time he used to derive a lot of pleasure in entertaining, or rather being entertained by these women; women who will do anything he asks provided he dangles money at them. Now he doesn’t. For a while now he has been obsessed with Jane, his cousin Sam’s wife. Ephraim is a very competitive man. He is the last born son of Jacob and Marisella, the couple that brought up Sam.
Ephraim and Sam are about the same age, and were the youngest in Jacob’s household. Jacob has two other sons, Phineas and Eliab. Jacob was a primary school teacher, just like his late brother, Elijah. Elijah was Sam’s father. Marisella, just like Sam’s late mother Julia, was a housewife. But Julia was forced to seek employment when her husband died. She was hired by a local secondary school as a cook, before she succumbed to breast cancer.
Because Elijah died when Sam was very young, he was their only child. Julia did not remarry when Elijah died, so Sam remained as an only child. When Julia followed her husband in death, Jacob took in the orphaned Sam and brought him up as his own son. Sam proved to be a very gifted child. He was always at the top of his class. He was also a very gifted footballer, a solid defender and the captain of his school team in both primary and secondary school. When he joined the University of Nairobi, he switched to rugby and was a rising star in the Mean Machine, UoN’s rugby team, until a dislocated knee ended his prospects in sports.
None of Jacob’s biological children could match Sam’s raw talent. Sam was the top student in Shava district in KCPE, and secured admission to Alliance High School. But Jacob could not afford to take him to the prestigious national school, neither could he afford to take him to Shava Boys High School, the local provincial school. Sam ended up at Messa Secondary School, a district school with inadequate resources. All of Jacob’s children studied in this school.
Phineas, Jacob’s first born, left Messa Secondary with a C plain and became a primary school teacher just like his father. Eliab got a D- and became a welder. Ephraim, who was Sam’s classmate, spent his time at both Shava Day Primary School and Messa Secondary School trying to outdo Sam. When he realized he was no match for Sam both in class and on the football pitch, he decided to be a bad boy. Ephraim was the ultimate rogue in school. He impregnated two girls by the time he was in form two, then dropped out of school in form three.
He became a local thug in Shava, was arrested multiple times and served short sentences for petty crimes such as shop lifting and being drunk and disorderly. Then he became an armed robber. He joined a local gang that was terrorizing residents of both Shava and Messa. They became so bold that they started robbing banks and electronics shops in broad daylight. But one day they walked into a police trap. They were in the middle of a heist at KCB Shava branch when a contingent of police officers materialized from seemingly nowhere. Ephraim and his gang mates-six in total-put up a spirited fight but the police were better prepared. Five thugs were shot dead, but Ephraim managed to escape with a bullet lodged in his left thigh.
For many years nobody knew where Ephraim was. Then he showed up four years ago, driving a Ferarri and swimming in money. He stayed at Sam’s hotel in Shava because it was the largest and most prestigious in Shava. But when he learned that the hotel belonged to his cousin, he quickly left the place and booked accommodation at a smaller establishment.
In the meantime, he forced Jacob to give him his inheritance. Jacob had eight acres of ancestral land, but only four belonged to him. The other four belonged to his deceased younger brother Elijah, Sam’s father. Jacob’s plan was to give Sam the whole four acres that his father left, then give each of his three sons an acre. He would then reserve an acre for himself and his wife, which they would farm well into their old age. But Ephraim bullied his father into giving him three acres. Sam, after seeing the old man being harassed by Ephraim, advised his uncle to give Ephraim whatever he wanted. So Jacob gave Ephraim three acres out of the four that he owned and remained with an acre. Sam, who had already bought land and built a home in Messa, donated his four acres of ancestral land in Shava to his cousins Phineas and Eliab, so that they got two acres each.
Before Ephraim showed up, Sam had already set up businesses for his other cousins.
Phineas quit teaching and became a carpenter. When he completed his carpentry training, Sam bought him carpentry equipment then leased the space that he needed to start a workshop. He also gave him capital to start off. Through sheer hard work and determination, Phineas has built his business into an impressive enterprise. He has orders for furniture from most of the wealthy people in Shava and Messa. He also lists schools amongst his clientele, and Sam’s hotel and restaurant were also his regular clients before they went under. But the jewel in his crown is Beeline Hospital. The prestigious hospital trusts his workshop with all its woodwork needs. Phineas’ workshop is now the largest and most prestigious in the region. Two years ago he negotiated with his landlord and not only bought the land that Sam had leased for the workshop, but also got an additional two acres.
Eliab’s story is similar. He was employed at a small welding shop in Shava when Sam set up a modern welding workshop for him. Sam leased space for him and bought him the equipment that he needed for the workshop. He also gave him capital to start off, as well as his first job. That was around the time that Sam was setting up his restaurant in Messa, so Eliab got to do all welding works in the restaurant. It is while he was working at that restaurant that he caught the attention of Richard, the late CEO of Beeline Hospital. Richard hired him to weld doors, windows and grills for an office block that the hospital was constructing. So Eliab’s workshop started on a high note. Beeline Hospital remains his most prominent client, but like his brother, his workshop attracts many clients around Shava, Messa and even beyond.
Because of what he did for his cousins, Sam is loved by not only Phineas and Eliab, but by Jacob and Marisella as well. This made Ephraim very jealous when he came back. He came back with tonnes of money, but it was not enough to earn the respect of his parents and siblings.
Ephraim did not expect to be adored. He knew that would never happen. To his family, he is a thug, and will always be a thug. But he wanted to be idolized. He wanted people to lick his boots. He wanted everyone to see that he that made it. He particularly wanted to show everyone that he was more successful than his more talented cousin. That is why he had kept away for so long. After running away from Shava with a bullet wound, he collapsed somewhere on the road. He doesn’t remember what happened next, but he when he came around he was in hospital. A wealthy man came to see him every day. At first he did not understand why a wealthy man would show interest in him.
But that became clear soon enough. When he recovered, he realized that he was in Mombasa. He was taken to the man’s lavish house. That is how he was introduced to the murky world of drug dealing. Whether the man, whose name was Said, chanced upon him, or whether he had been tracking his criminal profile, Ephraim doesn’t know to date. But Said took him under his wing and mentored him like a son.
Ephraim started at the bottom of the chain, and over the years worked his way up. Finally, he realized, he had found something he could excel in; and something profitable too. He was sure that he was making more money that Sam could ever dream of making. But he kept away from Shava. He wanted to come only when he had made enough money to mesmerize everyone, including the local tycoons.
He realizes now that bulldozing his father into giving him three acres of land was a bad idea. But his intention had not been to have it for himself. He wanted to build a posh estate of rental houses, then have his father and brothers as co-owners. He didn’t want to tell them right away because he wanted to buy their loyalty first. He wanted his family to gang up against Sam.
But things did not work out that way. First, as he soon discovered, his family wasn’t as poor as he had imagined. His parents own a building in Shava town where they collect rent. Phineas has a successful carpentry business and Eliab has a successful welding business. All this was made possible by Sam, who, as Ephraim came to learn, had established himself as a successful hotelier and restaurateur within a short time after leaving a lucrative job as the general manager of a chain of hotels owned by an old man called Kimani.
Sam had always been considered as part of the Jacob family, but his concern and generosity cemented his place. Instead of building rental houses, Ephraim decided to build a hotel to compete with Sam’s. It was completed in less than a year, and was launched with pomp and glamour. But to Ephraim’s disappointment, the people of Shava and the neighboring Messa remained loyal to Sam. All weddings and conferences continued to be held at Sam’s hotel. The ground floor restaurant at the hotel continued to be packed to capacity because it had meal prices that even the jua kali artisans could afford. The other restaurant was at the top floor of the hotel and catered for the wealthy, men and women who had deals to close away from noise on the ground floor. It also catered for the guests of the hotel. Even after Sam’s hotel burnt to the ground, people still stay away from Ephraim’s hotel.
Sam’s success got to Ephraim, even though he had more money than Sam could ever dream off. The old jealousy came back with a vengeance. To make it worse, rumor had it that Sam was considering vying for the Shava parliamentary seat, and that everyone considered him a hot favorite. That is when Ephraim came up with the plan to burn down Sam’s hotel. He bribed the police to come up with an inconclusive report. He paid of the High Court judge to rule against Sam. He tried to bribe the Court of Appeal judges but they turned him away.
Not a problem; he approached Kimeria, Sam’s lawyer. He was banking on the innate greed of human beings. It worked. Kimeria is now enjoying mojitos with Latino girls somewhere on the coast of South America, basking under his newfound status as a millionaire. In addition to the millions he stole from Sam, Kimeria has a new job as Ephraim’s link to the drug suppliers in South America. Ephraim has made sure that Sam will never get his money back.
Ephraim has learned from a spy that his brothers are meeting today at Eliab’s house to craft a way to help their so-called brother. He has frustrated his brother’s efforts to rescue Sam twice already, because he is determined to watch as Sam goes bankrupt. Then he will rub it in by taking Jane. He will make her pregnant, then marry her. He knows she will resist at first, but once her husband becomes a wreck, Ephraim is certain she will fall for his seduction. And once she realizes that she is pregnant for him, she will marry him without hesitation. He is sure of that.
Ephraim hates marriage, but he will gladly marry Jane to get back at Sam. He already knows that Sam impotent because bribed Dr. Onyango’s assistant to give him a copy of the result. Wedding a heavily pregnant Jane will be the ultimate coup against his much touted cousin. But for that to happen, he needs to permanently end his brothers’ desire to rescue Sam. Maybe it is time he killed those two fools.
Image by Branimir Lambasa from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/man-car-parking-night-home-5419522/
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