(Continued from Pawns III)
On Tuesday evening, Marion watches from her bedroom window as Wilfred and Adam pack food stuff onto the motorcycle. Wilfred has told Adam to deliver the food to an old woman who lives in the outskirts of Nkubu Town. That is part of their plan to ensure that there are no witnesses when Jackie disappears. Marion knows that Jackie and Adam are lovers, and at some point she had thought about telling her husband, so that Adam can get kicked out. She feared that Adam would impregnate Jackie and ruin their plans. Now she is glad she didn’t. Marion knows that she is not the one who is barren; because she is also pregnant. And since Jackie is also pregnant, it means that the children she and Jackie are carrying both belong to Adam, that handsome young man who is standing out there. Wilfred is the one who is impotent.
Adam is a blessing. Marion has come to enjoy her love making sessions with him. The young man was naïve at first, but she has taught him several skills and he is now very good in bed, unlike Wilfred whose ego doesn’t allow him to learn. But Adam’s importance goes beyond her carnal desires. He has also given her the baby she has always craved. And since the high priest has accepted Jackie’s pregnancy as the family’s sacrifice, it means that her own pregnancy is safe. Marion watches lustfully as Adam slides astride the motorcycle, and then as he rides out of the compound. She fleetingly wonders why she cannot have him to herself. Why can’t he look at her the way he looks at Jackie?
She is familiar with the kind of love that Adam and Jackie share. She and Wilfred shared it more than a decade ago. It was a honest kind of love that was brewed in poverty and hardship. Wilfred was a roving carpenter without a workshop he could call his own. He used to get odd jobs around the village, building or repairing cow sheds and chicken coops, but these and other related jobs were jobs that every quack could do and therefore people were not willing to pay much. Constructing wooden houses required skill, and therefore paid more. But fewer and fewer people are building wooded houses these days, so those were far and in between. Another job that had a respectable income was roofing stone houses. But masons are the foremen of these projects, and they almost always have their favorite carpenters.
Wilfred was poor, but Marion loved him. They were both active members of the church youth group, just like Adam and Jackie now are. The only difference between them and these young people was that she and Wilfred were orphans when they got married. And neither of them came from the Kanyamu locality.
As Adam rides away, Marion wonders how it would be if Wilfred suddenly died, or if something got to him and he eloped with Jackie. She would have Adam all to herself, and they would raise their son together. She is feeling confident that the child within her is a boy.
Marion has been staying at home since Friday morning, ostensibly because she is unwell, but in reality she wants to keep an eye on Jackie. The high priest said that Jackie wanted to run away, and Marion decided that she would watch her. If this girl runs away it means that the high priest will claim her (Marion’s) own child as the sacrifice. And Marion cannot let that happen.
Marion had feared that Jackie would sneak out at night while they slept but Wilfred has literally camped there since Friday night. Ordinarily he makes love to the girl and returns to the master bedroom. But since Friday he told Marion that he would be spending the entire night in Jackie’s room. Marion did not complain because she spent all those nights in Adam’s bed.
Sadly, all that will end tonight when they hand over Jackie to the high priest.
Wilfred looks on angrily as Adam rides away into the darkness. He wishes the young man would do something that would prevent them from taking Jackie to the high priest. But he knows he is venting at the wrong person because Adam is oblivious of their plans. Still, as Adam rides away innocently, Wilfred suddenly hates him for it. Why can’t he (Adam) fight for Jackie? Why couldn’t Adam have gotten Marion pregnant so that Jackie wouldn’t have to be sacrificed? Over the months that he had been sleeping with Jackie, Wilfred has become deeply infatuated to the younger woman, and he would have gladly offered his wife Marion to the high priest just so Jackie can live. He has been spending entire nights in her room since Friday, and it has been glorious.
But he has to deliver her to the high priest.
Wilfred originally came from Isiolo County. According to the story he told his wife later, his father had been a carpenter and had taught him the craft. But one day their village was attacked by pastoralists and every living human being was killed. Their cows and goats were driven away.
Wilfred had been away building a house for his father’s friend in the neighboring Meru County when this happened. He had spent the whole week in Meru, and returned to Isiolo early on Sunday morning in order to attend a church service with his family. Instead of finding his family alive and well, he was confronted by dead bodies all over, and smoking ashes of what used to be houses. Theirs was a farming community of Ameru who lived on the Isiolo side of the Meru/Isiolo border.
Wilfred was left an orphan, without even siblings, or clothes or a place to call home. As reporters started descending on his village to gather what would become major news across the country, Wilfred decided that he would not stick around. The place filled him with grief. He did not even go to claim the bodies of his family. How was he supposed to bury so many people? He had lost not only his nuclear family, but his extended one as well: grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. They had all lived together in the same village for as long as anybody could remember. His father owned three acres of land but Wilfred did not want it. The bandits could take it if they so wished.
He started drifting around, doing odd jobs here and there. Thankfully, he still had his tools and so he was able to survive. When he finally landed in this village, the local PCEA church gave him the work of roofing the newly constructed parish minister’s house. He decided that he had found a home. He rented a one-roomed tin house at the local market and settled. Once the roofing was complete, he started hustling for jobs while attending the church that had given him his first proper job since he lost his family.
And it is in that church that he also found a wife. He and his wife are now church elders. Most importantly though, the pastor’s wife introduced him and his wife to a spiritual power different from the one they worship publicly, but one that has brought him great success.
Marion also came from Isiolo, although she did not know Wilfred before she came to this village. Her father owned a shop in Isiolo town, but unfortunately he and the rest of the family died in a road accident on their way back home from Nanyuki. They were coming back from the wedding of her father’s younger brother. Had it not been for the fact that the head teacher had asked all class eight pupils to avail themselves for revision that Saturday, Marion would also have been in that car.
After the burial of Marion’s parents and siblings, her newly married uncle took over the shop but he and his wife started mistreating her. She persevered until she sat for her KCPE then she ran away. She stayed with several relatives, on both sides of her family, and none of them was interested in taking her to high school, although some of them were quite wealthy. Most of them mistreated her and wanted to use her as a house help without pay. The husband of one of her uncles even started making passes at her. Marion decided that she had had enough of relatives. She figured she could get paid for the work she was doing for relatives and that is when she started asking around for house help jobs.
She had worked for three families over a period of two years before she came to this village to work for Gladys Mutugi, who was a High School Deputy Principal and an elder of the local PCEA church. Mrs. Mutugi is the one who introduced her to church. Marion got to know about Mrs. Mutugi from a girl called Lucy, who she had known when she was working for a family in Meru town. Both of them had been mistreated by their bosses, and Lucy had left first. They had kept in touch over the phone though. After leaving Meru town, Lucy had apparently gotten employed by Mrs. Mutugi. She now wanted to leave employment so that she could get married. Mrs. Mutugi had asked her to help her find her replacement. Lucy asked if Marion would be interested, and Marion jumped at the offer. She was getting fed up of the insults and mistreatment she was getting from her then employer.
Mrs. Mutugi turned out to be better than all her previous employers. She was a nice, God-fearing lady who treated her like a human being and paid her well. When her last born went to boarding school, she enrolled Marion at the local polytechnic and Marion did a dressmaking course. Marion still did domestic chores and still got paid at the end of the month. But with the children out of the house, she could now do the chores in the morning before she left for school and in the evening after she returned. After she completed her course, Mrs. Mutugi allowed her to open a dressmaking shop while still living in her house. The only condition was that it should not interfere with her house chores.
Jackie finally left Mrs. Mutugi’s house when she got married to Wilfred. But she was on good terms with Mrs. Mutugi when she left. In fact, Mrs. Mutugi and her husband John acted as her parents at the wedding, and they funded about half of the wedding budget. Mrs. Mutugi left the area when she was promoted to principal and was sent to a school in Kiambu County, and that turned out to be very convenient for her family because her husband was a senior police officer attached to the police headquarters in Nairobi.
Jackie is getting ready to serve dinner when Marion and Wilfred enter the room.
“We are not eating here today,” Marion says gently. “We are going to Pastor Waithaka’s house for Bible Study. We will eat there.”
Jackie doesn’t know whether to happy or anxious. Ever since that dog visited her room, the presence of the Weodakas near her makes her uncomfortable. Their early departure would therefore have been extremely good news under ordinary circumstances. But it is night time, and Adam has left. She doesn’t want to be left all alone. But the next piece of news confuses her.
“Mrs. Waithaka asked us to tag you along so that you can help Doreen prepare dinner.”
Jackie knows there is no Bible Study, and she certainly doesn’t want to go to a Satanic Temple. Adam told her something about Angela Waithaka being part of the satanic group, but they did not get a chance to discuss it in detail because Marion came and sent her on an errand. Marion, who was supposedly sick, has been on her case since Friday, never giving her a chance to be alone with Adam. Jackie didn’t even go to church on Sunday, because Marion was supposedly sick and so she had to stay behind and take care of her. Right now the last place Jackie wants to be is in the parish house.
“I am sorry madam but I am not feeling too well. I am not sure I will be able to stay up late.”
“You won’t stay up late sweetheart. You will just help with the food, and then we can tell Adam to come and pick you up.”
The mention of Adam reassures her, and, she follows them to Marion’s Mercedes. It is only after Marion switches off the lights in the kitchen that Jackie realises that the whole house is in darkness. She finds that weird since the house has never had its lights off after dark, until everyone goes to sleep. But then she realises that the house has never been empty after dark either. She, Jackie, is always there. Marion drives out, with Jackie on the back seat. Wilfred follows on foot, closes the gate and then joins his wife at the front. As Marion pulls away, Jackie decides to text Adam to tell him where she has gone and that he will be expected to pick her up later. But she doesn’t have her phone, even though she is certain it was in her coat pocket.
“Madam Marion, I think I have forgotten my phone at the house…”
“No you didn’t, Jackie. I am the one who took it from your pocket. Keep driving, sweetheart,” Wilfred replies. Even Marion looks surprised, but she accelerates the car.
“Why would you…can I please have it?”
“No, Jackie. If I give it to you will tell everyone where we are taking you.”
“Aren’t we going to the parish house?” Jackie asks, starting to panic.
“You could call it a parish house, but we prefer to call it a shrine. The high priest of the “church” we are taking you to is interested in the baby you are carrying, and with you as a woman.”
Jackie tries to open the door and jump out but it is locked. She unlocks it but it still doesn’t open.
“Relax darling,” Wilfred says gently. “That door has child lock so you cannot open it from inside. Marion, lock the windows.”
Marion resents Jackie because she is the woman that Adam loves, but she finds her husband to be too cold-hearted these days. But he is the head of the family, so she obeys and locks the doors.
Jackie screams, but she senses that it is futile. So she starts sobbing softly. Not only will that dog eat her baby, it will probably force her to do disgusting things as its wife. Or concubine.
God has finally abandoned her.
(This is the last free sub-chapter of the story. To find out what became of Jackie, please follow the instructions below to get your copy of the novella for only Kshs. 100).
Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/fantasy-landscape-mystical-2657122/
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