Continued from Step Mother II
Irene slowly unzips her jacket, removes it, and starts unbuttoning her blouse. The man gleefully starts unfastening his belt. Irene knows that she has a very small window of opportunity to get him when his guard us down. When she finally sees the shadow of his trouser dropping, she aims a kick at his groin, hoping she will not miss. The kick connects, and the man groans in both surprise and pain. Irene follows that up with two quick kicks in the face. She is grateful that her father insisted that she takes martial arts classes. Eric went too, but Wilson was more interested in having his daughter get skills to protect herself in case of an attack such as the one she is currently facing. Before the man can recover, Irene grabs her purse, which she can see on the ground because it brightly colored, and opens it. She only needs two things, a flashlight and a pepper spray.
The flashlight is tiny, but it will do. Its only purpose is to illuminate his face so that the pepper spray doesn’t miss its target. She will also use it to find her phone. She flashes the light on the rider’s face just as he is about to get up, and so she quickly sprays his face with pepper. This time he screams loudly as he rubs his eyes. Irene doesn’t waste time. She spots her phone on the back pocket of his jeans, which he had removed, and takes it. On second thought, she also takes his phone and puts it in her pocket. She grabs her jacket, throws it over her torso and then jumps onto the motorcycle.
There is another lesson that her father taught her that is going to be very useful right now: riding a motorcycle. She starts the engine and switches on the headlights just as the man is staggering to his feet. But it is too late for him: Irene gets the motorcycle going before he can get to her. The tyres squeal and send pebbles flying as Irene rides into the darkness, leaving the rider stranded in the bush. She took his phone so that he wouldn’t get a chance to call his friends to give her a chase.
Irene is not familiar with the dirt road that they took to the bush, but fortunately she does remember that they did not take any deviation, other than the original branching out from the main road. Once she gets to the main road it becomes easier: she is familiar with the road and the surface of the road is easier to take. The motorcycle feels very light under her. When her father trained her, and on their subsequent leisure rides, they always used larger Yamaha machines which they used to hire for a day or so. But to get her riding license she used a small Captain motorcycle, just like this one, because that is what the driving school had. The motorcycle feels strange to her, but not completely unfamiliar.
She rides straight to Murang’a police station where she finds two officers, a man and a woman, at the reporting desk. She explains to them what had happened and she is issued with an OB number. She gives them the key to the motorcycle as well as the man’s phone. Then she peels a fifty shilling note from her pocket and hands it to the female officer.
“Tell the rider, when he comes, that that is money for his fuel, which I have used to come to town.”
“Leave something for us, madam,” the lady cop says. It is very cold and we need something to warm our bodies.”
Irene peels two hundred shillings from her small wand of notes and gives it to her.
“What about me?” the man asks.
“That is for both of you,” Irene says with a smile. “The rest is for my rent.”
Irene walks from the police station down to the town center. It is about 8 pm, but people are still walking about. Street vendors are still in business. She decides against going to Ruiru, and decides to spend the night in a hotel in Murang’a town. But she knows only one hotel in Murang’a, and it is nowhere near the town center. It is at a place called Mukuyu. She will have to take another motorcycle to the place, and that idea is already traumatizing her. But even if she decides to go to Ruiru, she will be forced to either walk in the dark from the matatu stage to her aunt’s house or take a motorcycle down the dirt road. And it will be later in the night when she gets there. At least here in Murang’a she will be riding within town, even if away from the town center, and the night is still young.
Before going to the hotel, she realizes that she will need a change of clothes in the morning, so she stops by the supermarket. Thank God her mother taught her how to save, so she has some cash on her. She finds a nice yellow dress that she falls in love with instantly. She also buys a night dress, a back pack, panties, bra and flat shoes. After paying for everything, she loads them into the back pack and steps out of the supermarket. She finds a motorcycle right outside supermarket, and instructs the rider to take her to Nokras Hotel in Mukuyu. The rider doesn’t take any deviations, and Irene sighs with relief when she gets to the hotel safely. Once she checks into the hotel, Irene goes first to the restaurant and takes dinner. She has just realized that she is famished because she has not taken anything since breakfast.
Her father calls while she is eating.
“Where are you?” he demands, anger dripping from his voice. “You know people don’t stay out late in my house.”
The hostility in his tone whenever he is talking to her nowadays always shocks Irene. It is almost as though he is not the same man she has considered her friend for almost the entire of her life. The man she used to ride motorcycles with; the man she spent hours on the farm with; the man who taught her life hacks. It is true Wilson was the disciplinarian in the family. But he has always been firm without being hostile. She has always felt loved even when he was correcting her. But now there is no doubt that he hates her.
“I am not coming back to your house dad. I want to give you space to grow your new family.”
“You have been talking to that filthy woman who calls herself your aunt? Tell her I am going to sue her. If she thinks she can take my children and get away with it she is mistaken.”
“Her name is Mary and she is not filthy. I haven’t talked to her yet but I will. Let me remind you dad that Eric and I are adults. We can decide where we want to stay. You have a wife so why don’t you concentrate on that? Or are you missing a slave in your life? Did your wife fail to cook dinner because she was watching a movie? Get used to it dad, or hire someone you are actually going to pay. I am done being your slave.”
Irene’s outburst shocks both herself and her father. She has never spoken to him like this before. Irene hangs up quickly and then bursts out and starts crying. When she has calmed down somewhat, she takes her phone and calls her brother and updates him on the latest developments.
“I am coming tomorrow. I hope you guys have space for me.”
“Of course siz. Auntie will be so happy,”
There are things Wilson has always taken for granted. Like getting out of the shower and finding his clothes laid out for him in the walk-in closet, which also acts as the dressing room. For years, Esther always ironed both their clothes and laid them out before she went to sleep. When Esther died, Irene took up this role. The only piece of clothing Wilson took charge of is his underwear. But this morning when he walks to the closet he finds no clothes laid out for him. Then he remembers that his daughter is gone. He wants to wake his wife but he decides against it. He doesn’t need her whining at him in the morning.
He selects his clothes and irons them. After that he polishes his shoes, another chore that he has not performed in two decades. He dresses up and walks to the dining room. But he finds it dark. Marion always ensured that his breakfast would be on the table when he came down to the dining room. She had her own key to the house, and she would come in early from her house and would ensure everyone had everything they needed for school and work. After she was fired by Krystal, Irene took up this task; but now Irene is gone as well.
Wilson walks to the kitchen and warms a glass of milk. He takes the milk with three slices of bread and tops it up with a banana. Dirty dishes are still on the sink, the way he left them last night after cooking. Life cannot go on like this. He will gave to get Marion back into the house, whether Krystal likes it or not. It is either she does the house chores or she lets Marion do them.
Wilson decides to walk out of his home and go to Marion’s house to plead with her to come back. He knocks the door and her husband opens. He is a boda boda rider and it is obvious that he is getting ready to leave for the day, although he is still holding a cup of tea in his hand. He greets Wilson politely enough and invites him into the house. It is a decent stone house: not a mansion like his, but a decent enough a house. Marion appears from the kitchen and serves him tea, which Wilson accepts, but he declines the sweet potatoes. Marion is also dressed up, and Wilson wonders where she could be going so early.
“What can we do for you, Mr. Wilson?” Marion’s husband, Kennedy, finally asks. They always call him “Mr. Wilson”. Marion has already retreated to the kitchen with her cup of tea, leaving the two men alone. She wasn’t hostile, even though Wilson had been expecting it. In fact their politeness, while welcome, is unsettling him.
“First I want to sincerely apologize to you and your wife over the way my wife treated her…”
“What hurt Marion the most is not the way your wife treated her, Mr. Wilson. It is the way you treated her. The fact that you stood there and watched as your wife humiliated her, and the way you shouted at Irene when she tried to help. That really broke her heart.”
“I know I acted like a fool that day, please forgive me.”
“Do you really mean that Mr. Wilson, or do you simply need her back at your house?”
Kennedy’s straightforwardness is startling, and Wilson fumbles in his reply.
“If you want her back Mr. Wilson, just say so. Stop beating around the bush.”
“Yes, it is true I really need Marion back at the house. But I am also very sincere in my apologies.”
Kennedy calls his wife and when she comes he repeats what Wilson had said.
“I will leave the two of you to talk. It is up to you Marrie to decide whether to forgive him or not. Let me get my shoes.”
He disappears into the back of the house through a corridor.
“I forgave you a long time ago, Mr. Wilson,” Marion says without hesitating. “You have always been good to me except on the day your wife fired me.”
“Will you come back to my house then?” Wilson asks eagerly.
“There are two reasons for that. First, I have another job and I really like it. You found my husband and I about to leave. He drops me at my new work place every morning before he goes out to hustle for pillion passengers.”
“I can double the salary your new employers are giving you.”
“It is not always about the money, Mr. Wilson. It is about being treated right. I was offered more money by other people in the many years that I worked for you, but I always chose to stay because you and Mama Irene always treated me so well. But that situation has changed. Your current wife treats me and everyone who is not you like pieces of garbage, while my current bosses treat me with a respect and dignity. I am not leaving my job to come and work for Krystal. That is the second reason: I don’t like your wife, and if I don’t like her I won’t be comfortable working for her. I am sorry Mr. Wilson.”
“Can you at least recommend someone?”
“I am sorry Mr. Wilson, but I wouldn’t in good conscience send anyone to work under Krystal.”
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