(Continued from The Age Factor III)
Elizabeth looks outside the window of her office. The farm looks beautiful at this time of the year. The early morning sun is spreading a beautiful golden color over the green expanse. At a different time of her life, she would have experienced sheer joy by simply looking at the farm.
But today her mind is preoccupied with problems.
She has just received word from the lawyers: Richard’s daughters are challenging their grandmother’s will. That would not be a problem, except that Elizabeth is not sure whether or not they have the support of their father. It is all very confusing. A mere two weeks ago, she was living a simple, happy life. The only complication was her crush on Richard, but even that was in control for as long as it was secret.
Then Richard asked her to be his girlfriend and immediately after, things started falling apart. Now Margaret, Richard’s mother, is dead, and Richard is gloomy and irritable. Perhaps Richard is also bothered by the fact that Silvia is living with a very young man. And she, Elizabeth, turned him down when he asked her to be his girlfriend at the hospital.
Elizabeth sighs and walks back to her desk. She rubs her temples and sighs again. Silvia has the luxury of doing whatever she wants, but she, Elizabeth, has a farm to run. And Richard is not helping much these days. He just sits gloomily in his office doing pretty much nothing.
Besides his mother’s death and Silvia’s escapades, the matter of his mother’s will must also be weighing heavily on his mind. Margaret, before she died, had written a will leaving two thirds of her thirty percent stake in the farm to Elizabeth and the other third, or ten percent, to Richard. That makes Elizabeth and Richard equal partners in the farm. She left her school to a board of trustees, with Richard as the Chairman of the Trustees Board and Elizabeth as the Secretary. Surely, anyone in Richard’s shoes would feel aggrieved. He had always expected that his mother’s stake in the farm would be his.
Elizabeth is still thinking when Richard staggers into her office. It is the first time that she is seeing him drunk. He is not just tipsy, but very drunk. Elizabeth is shocked, and at first has no idea what to do. He walks towards her desk, insults her for a few minutes then steps out of the office.
Elizabeth realizes that she cannot allow him to present himself to all his employees in this state. It is embarrassing enough that some of them must have seen him already. She quickly follows him outside and holds him by the arm.
“Leave me alone, you thief. You pretend to be better than Silvia but all along you wanted to take away my farm from me. You have succeeded, so congratulations. You must be very proud of yourself now,” he stammers.
The words sting Elizabeth, but she reminds herself that he is drunk.
“I am not a thief, Richard and you know that. Come on, let me take you home.”
“You want to go home with me?”
“Will you be my girlfriend?”
Elizabeth knows that her secretary and a few other employees are listening, so she swallows hard before responding. This is embarrassing.
“So you will sleep with me?”
“Let us go home first.”
She leads him to her car, helps him to the front seat and helps him to belt up. Along the way, he remembers that his mother is dead and starts sobbing. She knows the rest of her day is ruined because she has to take care of him, and she also knows that she might have to take charge of Margaret’s burial preparations. By the time they get to his house, he is fast asleep.
At Milimani Law Courts, the Honorable Justice Simon Keria is staring blankly at the file. He is set to deliver the bail ruling in the case involving the very wealthy and influential Timothy. Timothy is charged with the kidnapping of a woman called Silvia and the murder of two young men identified as Sam and Jeff. The case has attracted a lot of national attention, so the courtroom is packed.
Journalists have their cameras trained on him. He knows that he will be vilified for the ruling he is set to read. He prepared this ruling hurriedly last night, dumping the previous one that he had meticulously prepared. The lawyer who appeared at his table last evening stands up when the matter is called out. The judge feels nothing but resentment for him.
“My Lord, in that matter I am Boaz, acting for the accused person. The matter is coming up for the ruling on the accused person’s application for bail.”
Judge Keria reads his rulings and judgments in the afternoon, but he makes an exception with bail rulings. He schedules bails rulings amongst the first items in the morning session, alongside case mentions. But today he wonders whether he should have scheduled this bail ruling for the afternoon. Perhaps then there would have been less people watching him deliver this horrible judicial decision. But he knows that even if he had scheduled it for midnight, the media vultures would have been present.
Besides, he did not know until yesterday evening that this is what he was going to deliver. By the evening of yesterday, he had prepared one of his signature rulings, filled with enough wisdom to impress the famous English judge, the late Lord Denning. He had cited the Constitution severally, mentioned cases from the Kenyan Court of Appeal and even the Supreme Court. He had flavored the ruling with nuggets of wisdom from the late Lord Denning and the late Lord Diplock, then added pieces from Shakespeare for artistic flair. All to explain why Timothy should spend time in jail as the main trial proceeds.
He had done his research but the prosecutor had helped. The young lady usually prepares meticulously for her cases. She is usually a joy to listen to, and there is nothing more satisfying than reading her submissions. For almost forty years, judge Keria has been delivering dry, forgettable judgments and rulings. But when he came to Nairobi last year and found Miss Amandi assigned to his court as the prosecutor, her sense of organization, preparedness and mild humor inspired his own creativity and diligence. And for a year now, he has become famous for beautifully written judgments and rulings, most of them going the prosecution way.
He steals a glance at Miss Amandi and she favors him a tiny smile. He quickly looks away. He feels like a traitor. They both know that this decision should go her way. Boaz did not offer any sound arguments in favor of his client getting bail, even though Timothy is charged with very serious offences. Boaz made a few routine and very lame duck arguments that would not even have sufficed for a chicken thief, then left the field for Miss Amandi to dazzle the judge with wisdom from beyond and yonder. She had articulately explained why Timothy was a flight risk and why he had the capability to meddle with witnesses. She had prepared water tight arguments to back up her case.
“Having listened to both the prosecutor and the counsel for the accused person, and having read the Constitution especially the articles touching on the rights of the accused person, I hereby grant the accused person a cash bail of ten million shillings. The court will now take a ten minutes recess.”
As the judge disappears towards his chambers, he knows that his decision to take a break after delivering that ruling will make his ruling even more suspicious. But he doesn’t care. The truth is, bail rulings are supposed to be routine matters. Rulings such as the one he has delivered are common amongst other judges. He is the one who set his standards too high. So what if he broke his own standards?
He knows that the media will take a swing at him, and that is why he desperately needs a vodka.
Silvia and Jared look at each other in shock. The prosecutor had impressed them, and they knew that the judge has a reputation for ruthless fairness. What could have gone wrong?
Silvia makes the mistake of looking at Timothy before he leaves the dock. When their eyes meet, Timothy lifts his hand as if he wants to blow his nose then makes a subtle slaughtering gesture at Silvia.
“Let’s go,” she tells Jared.
They quickly exit the courtroom in Silvia’s car, with Jared driving. They are both lost in thought. Silvia has not told Jared about Timothy’s gesture, but she knows that he is aware of the threat that a free Timothy poses. They probably underestimated him, especially his ability to manipulate or blackmail a judge. Because that is clearly what happened today.
They drive straight to Silvia’s apartment. As they wait for the gateman to open the gate, a motorcycle with one pillion passenger pulls up. The passenger hops out, calmly walks to the driver’s side and shoots Jared thrice from close range. Jared doesn’t even get time to draw his gun. The shooter aims the gun at Silvia, shakes his head then hops back on the motorcycle and leaves.
Silvia is too stunned to move. The gunman could have killed her if he had wanted, but he had spared her life. She leans back on her seat and closes her eyes. As the gateman comes screaming and as neighbors surround the car, Silvia is in a daze. It looks like a movie.
When she regains her senses, she is at the Mater Hospital, where she is treated for shock for the second time in less than a week. Except that unlike earlier, this time she is in real shock. She doesn’t know who took her there. Her mind is reeling. She knows without asking that Jared is dead. She also knows that Timothy was behind it. And she also knows that he did not spare her because he loves her. He was simply sending a message that he is free now and he is ready to punish those who backstabbed him.
But Silvia knows that he is making the same mistake that she and Jared made: he is underestimating her. She knows she has a small window of opportunity to turn the tables on him. Key to those plans is Superintendent James Awali, the County Commander of Police.
She calls him amid a torrent of tears. He sends a plain clothes police officer in an unmarked car to pick her from the hospital an hour later. The police officer takes her to a house the commander owns in Ruiru, where he is waiting. It is in this house that he enjoys his trysts with Silvia and other women. His wife and kids live at his family residence in Kitengela.
Superintendent Awali would have loved to spend the night with Silvia, but he knows that he will have to go home to Kitengela. He knows that his wife Angela knows about his affairs, and he doesn’t want to give her a reason to walk out on him. An African man is defined by having a stable family, so while he enjoys his trysts with other women, he tries to sustain the image of a happily married family man. Angela used to nag earlier in their marriage, but these days she largely ignores him. Which suits him fine.
Of all the women he sleeps with, Silvia is the one he fancies best. She is about his wife’s age, but unlike Angela, Silvia still has the body of a model. And unlike the college girls he sleeps with, she is mature and very brilliant. He wonders why he did not meet her thirty years ago, just before he married Angela. He has been trying to convince her to be his steady mistress, although she has been evasive.
He conveniently forgets that unlike Silvia, his wife Angela has given birth to his six children, and since he doesn’t provide much at home, she is forced to work twelve hours a day, six days a week so that her children can eat, dress and go to school. She has little time and money for the gym and skin care products. The only thing that Awali has provided for his family is the house they live in. His money goes to his other women, including Silvia.
He is thinking of ways of re-arresting Timothy as he leaves the Ruiru house. He and Silvia have devised a plan where they will kill him once he is in police custody. It is only then that Silvia can be safe. He knows she moved in with Timothy after leaving her husband Richard, which is the more the reason he wants to kill that criminal. With Timothy dead, she will surely agree to continue living at the Ruiru house as his mistress.
As he pulls out of the gate, he does not notice the two men hiding in the shadows. Two bullets shatter the driver’s side of the windscreen. One hits the Superintendent in the neck, and the other in the chest. As the Superintendent howls in pain, the shadowy figures slink away into the darkness.
[End of the free part of the story. To find out what happened to Elizabeth, Richard and Silvia, follow the instructions below to purchase your copy of the novella.]
To purchase a copy of this month’s first novella, The Age Factor, you can follow either one of two ways:
- Digital Method. Log in to the bookstore- register if you are new-(https://www.maroncha.com/book-store). Select the book (The Age Factor). Add to cart, check out then pay. You will be able to download instantly from the bookstore. A copy will also be automatically sent to your email.
- Manual Method. Pay Kshs. 100 to Buy Goods Till Number 297264. Send us an email at email@example.com telling us your M-PESA name and the book you wish to purchase (The Age Factor). 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.
Remember you can always inbox Sanctuaryside on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a query or feedback.
The second July story will start on Tuesday. See you then.