(Continued from Sandra IV)
Sandra is staring at the sky as she waits for Titus to open the door and switch on the light. She had forgotten her house keys in the car, and he had gone back to pick them, then went ahead to open the house while she stood just outside gazing at the sky. It is a dark night, with dark clouds hanging low. It is obvious that it is going to rain furiously not long from now. Making love with the rain forming the background noise will be awesome, she muses. A dark figure crosses over from behind her house and out of the gate. She cannot see what it is because it moves in the darkness, avoiding the glare of the security light. Probably a dog.
“Babe, what are you doing in there? Switch on the light,” she says again, looking away from the clouds and walking towards the door. She steps inside and switches on the light. What she sees makes her heart nearly stop. Titus is on the floor, bleeding from the chest. She reaches out and touches his wrist. He has a weak pulse. He is alive, but barely.
Her mind is racing. He has obviously been shot by a professional. After she dumped Eric she dated a man called Rickie who turned out to be a goon for one of the senior politicians in the country. Rickie was a killer, a drug peddler, a poacher and a hardened criminal. The Senator also used to smuggle gold from Angola and the DRC. He introduced her into his life and even used her in the smuggling and drug peddling business. Rickie used an assassin called Bob to get rid of the Senator’s enemies. Bob moved stealthily and nailed his victims when they least expected it.
This is the work of Bob, or someone as efficient as Bob. But why? Obviously, Titus was not the target. The killer would have had no way of knowing that Titus would the one opening that door. She was the target. That realization sends shivers down her spine. Who could it be? She has not crossed hairs with anyone of late. Okay, except Elizabeth. But Elizabeth is not the kind to hire a professional like Bob. Even if she wanted, she could not afford it.
Jessica? The Bishop had said she was dangerous. But she, Sandra, has not made a move on the Bishop before today. Even if Cate called her, it is unlikely that she would hire an assassin so soon. Besides, Cate had come to warn them that Titus had arrived. It would beat logic for her to go ahead and inform Jessica.
It has to be someone from her past. Someone she crossed while she was working with Rickie. The Priestess perhaps? It was almost a year before she learned that the priestess was Rickie’s main girlfriend. She had heard of the priestess before but as a legend. When she heard that she was sleeping with the Priestess’ man, she was obviously scared. She wanted to break up with Rickie, but he would hear none of it. So for a year she lived on a knife’s edge: if she ran away from Rickie, he would put a bullet through her skull. If she stayed, the Priestess would. That is the time she missed the simple, boring life with Titus the most. She could not understand how she had descended from being an executive in a respectable company to being the girlfriend of a criminal.
Then Rickie was gunned down and she got her reprieve. For a while she watched shadows, expecting a vengeful Priestess to show up and kill her. But after a while she figured that the Priestess was not interested. Until now. But why would she appear now, years later? It doesn’t make sense.
But she doesn’t have time to think. There is a dying man on her floor. She knows she is expected to scream, so she starts screaming calling neighbours. Several neighbours come to see what the matter is. One calls the police while another offers to take Titus to the hospital. Murang’a Level Five Hospital is not very far from their neigborhood. Sandra accompanies them to the hospital. She is shivering, and not from cold.
Robert is woken up by his ringing phone.
“When did you become so sloppy? You cannot even execute a simple assignment anymore?” a furious Jessica demands.
“You told me she would be alone, Jessica. But she wasn’t. After I shot her, I could not confirm if she is dead because I heard someone else coming. There was no way I could shoot whoever was with her without making him or her scream. And screaming would have made my exit difficult. So I chose to exit. But do not worry, I will find her in whatever hospital they take her and finish the job,”
“You have become so hopeless Robert. You are no longer the Bob everyone feared. I don’t know what is worse, the fact that you did not hit her, or that the fact that nine hours later you have no idea that you hit the wrong person. What happened to you, Robert?”
Robert clenches his teeth. He is not used to being given a dress down. But she is right. He was sloppy in this job. Perhaps it is his desperation to please her while making some money. But he ordinarily would not have relied on information fed to him by a client. True, in yesteryears he relied on information fed to him by the Priestess. But Jessica is no longer the Priestess, so he should have taken his time to study the routines of the woman, and even get to see her face. As it is, the only information he acted on was her apartment number. That was sloppy.
“I will clean up my mess, Jessica. Give me a few more days, and I will waste the girl.”
“You had better. But listen Rob, there is something I need to tell you,”
“I am listening,”
“You probably know this woman,”
“How do you mean?”
“Her name now is Sandra, but a few years ago her name was Vicky. She was one of Rickie’s side lovers,”
“I remember Vicky. But how did she find you? Nobody knew who the Priestess was,”
“I don’t think she knows who I am. But she is dangerous. I want her gone.”
“You have it Jessica. I will not fail you this time.”
Jessica leans on her car and sighs. She is on the side of a deserted road, where she was sure nobody would overhear her conversation. Yesterday she had to take a walk to call him. She acted on impulse when she made the call. Perhaps that was a mistake. She should have found another way of getting rid of the girl. Calling Robert was summoning her past into her present. But then again that is not entirely true. Sandra is the one who summoned the past by showing up. Jessica cannot believe that it took her so long to recognize the woman for who she is. Robert had better get rid of her.
She enters into her car and drives towards the Tabernacle, where her office sits on the third floor.
Paul learns of Titus’ shooting in the morning, from a friend who is a police officer. He calls Liz, who is already at work. She leaves instructions with the staff, and by the time Paul comes to pick her, she is ready to leave.
They head to Murang’a Level Five where Titus is admitted in a critical condition. The doctor informs them that he has a bullet lodged very close to the heart, and that is what could kill him. It could be removed, but it is a delicate operation that requires the kind of skilled manpower that the hospital does not have. They have thought about transferring him to Nairobi in an ambulance, but moving him by road could kill him.
Paul uses his connections from his days as a city lawyer to get a helicopter to airlift him to the Warrior Hospital, a high-end private hospital in Nairobi. Liz and Sandra ride alongside the paramedics, but Paul tells Sandra that she has to be left behind because the police will want to question her. She wants to argue that the police have already questioned her, but then another thought crossed her mind.
It occurs to her that with both Liz and Titus gone, this would be the best time for her to stamp her authority at the business. By the time Liz comes back, she, Sandra, will be the second in command. Actually the top command because Titus will be incapacitated for a while. Liz will be just another employee. Sandra takes a taxi to the premises. She tries opening the door to Titus’s office, but it is locked. She tries Elizabeth’s door but it is locked too.
She curses under her breath.
She walks to the restaurant and approaches the cashier.
“Who has the keys to the offices?”
The cashier looks at her quizzically.
“Madam Elizabeth. She is the one who opens and closes the entire premises.”
It occurs to her that Titus must have his own set of keys. But if he does, they are probably in his car, which is still parked at her compound. The place is still crawling with police officers, and she has no intention of taking herself to them.
But not having the keys to the office is not a problem. She actually doesn’t need it. She moves around telling all the staff members that she wants to meet them in ten minutes’ time behind the office. She has important announcements to make.
Ten minutes later, she is standing alone behind the office. Twenty minutes later she is still alone. She is irritated. Who do these fools think she is to be kept waiting? She walks to the restaurant. Everyone is going on with their business as usual.
She walks to the cashier.
“I called a staff meeting. Didn’t you guys hear me?”
“As you can see madam, we are busy,” the cashier responds calmly.
“It was not a request, it was an ORDER!” Sandra explodes.
The cashier does not even look up.
“I am sorry, but we do not take orders from you. We have only two bosses, Titus and Elizabeth. Now please leave us to do our work,”
Sandra grabs the cashier by the hair and yanks her out of her seat.
“I am your new boss, understand that? Elizabeth is just an employee. I am the owner!”
She drags the cashier on the floor but is restrained by two male staff members, who she also fights vigorously. Someone calls Liz and updates her. She is shocked. She informs Paul, who calls the county head at the Murang’a office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and calls in a favor.
Ten minutes later, a police land cruiser arrives at the premises and Sandra is arrested and taken to the police station. She is taken to the interrogation room where three mean-looking detectives are waiting.
“Where is the gun, Sandra?” one of the detectives, a middle-aged man, asks.
“The one you used to shoot your boyfriend,”
“Are you saying…why would I want to kill him a month to our wedding?”
“You tell us,” another detective, a young woman, asks.
“You see, Sandra, several things do not add up. First, you claim you saw a figure running away after your boyfriend was shot. None of your neighbours saw anyone. There was no forced entry into your house. You actually told our colleagues this morning that you are double sure that you had locked the doors. Then this morning, before your boyfriend is even out of danger, you try to forcibly take over his business. What does all that mean?”
“Look, it is not what it looks like…” she begins weakly.
“What really happened last night Sandra? Did he try to break up with you?”
Sandra looks at their eyes and realises that her situation has just become very sticky. First, there is a killer out there who is out to get her, a reality she already told the police but which has just been trashed. Second, she is being accused of the actions of the very person who is trying to kill her.
Either way, her goose is cooked.
[END OF BLOG SERIES. Follow the instructions below to access the whole story]
It has been a pleasure being with you all here every week in 2019. I feel like I personally know some of you, especially those who comment on the posts regularly. All of you have made my 2019 worthwhile, including those of you ghost-readers who read silently and leave without leaving a footprint. I am grateful.
As I had mentioned earlier, I am releasing the novella today so that we can break for Christmas. To purchase the novella, you can use either of two ways (those of you who have followed this month’s series will start reading from the second part of chapter 3):
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- Manual Method. Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org telling us your M-PESA name and the book you wish to purchase (Sandra). It might take us some time to process your order, but we will email your copy once we have verified your payment. If you are using the manual system and wish to buy my previous books, just log in to the bookstore (https://www.maroncha.com/book-store) and you will see all the previous titles. You can then pay for any of them.
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Have a merry Christmas and a prosperous 2020. See you all on the first Friday of January.