(Continued from The Demons of Meke Hospital III)
Jemimah is so frightened that she cannot stop herself from shaking. A man who took the trouble to duplicate her house key cannot be joking. He pushes her to a seat and orders her to sit. She obeys. Tears are flowing down her cheeks.
“Relax Jemimah. I am not going to hurt you,” the man says, his voice suddenly becoming gentle. Jemimah does not believe him. He must be playing with her mind. He is wearing a full-face mask, so she cannot read his face. But maybe if she keeps talking to him she can delay the inevitable.
“How do you know my name?” she manages to ask.
“Whoever sent me gave me your name, your house number and your photo.”
“Who sent you?”
“That doesn’t matter.”
“How did you get in here?”
“I duplicated your key.”
“But where did you get the original?”
“In your handbag. I sneaked into your office while you were in the ward. When I came to return them, I found you had returned to the office. So I dropped them at the door.”
Jemimah remembers collecting the keys as she left the office and wondering how she dropped them in the first place. They stay in silence for a while before the gun man speaks again.
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I said I will not kill you?”
“It has crossed my mind, but I am afraid that asking you might provoke you to change your mind.”
Jemimah marvels at her own courage and calmness. A man has sneaked into her house using a duplicated key, he is pointing a gun at her and here she is chatting him up.
The man laughs softly.
“I was hired to kill you. Someone out here was willing to pay two million shillings to have you and your friend Judy killed. To be honest, I was going to do it. But I came to this house, saw your photos and something clicked. My mother died of cancer several years ago. But before she died, you took exceptional care for her. You went beyond your duty to ensure that she was comfortable. I just cannot bring myself to kill you, even for a million shillings. My mother will curse me from her grave. I stayed behind to warn you to watch your back. Just because I did not kill you doesn’t mean that the person who is hired next will not kill you. Send that message to your colleague Judy as well.
Both of you are safe tonight. But when whoever hired me discovers that you are still alive, and they will make that discovery tomorrow, from that point you will be on your own.”
“Who hired you?” Jemimah asks again.
“Good night nurse,” the gun man says and rises from his seat.
“One more question,” Jemimah says, again surprising herself with her boldness. “Why did you leave my door open? I could have panicked and fled.”
“But you didn’t,” the gunman says. “That was my own private research on human behavior.”
He unlocks the door and disappears into the night.
After the would-be killer leaves, Jemimah thinks about calling Judy, but decides that there is no need to spook her. The man said they are safe tonight. She will have to find her in the morning and pass on the warning.
Jemimah is scared; a million shillings? Since Haye is dead, the only other person she can think of who would want her dead is Bala. But it is doubtful that Bala would fork two million shillings just to have her and Judy killed. Bala would probably find a local thug to shoot them on their way for a hundred thousand shillings.
Jemimah flips her photo album trying to figure out who the killer’s mother could be, but she knows it is hopeless. She took too many photos when she was a home-care nurse.
Jemimah has lost her appetite but she prepares a meal of ugali and sukuma wiki. She pushes a little of itdown her throat before giving up. She goes to her bedroom and collapses on her bed. She is so tired that she drifts off to sleep in spite of her anxiety.
Benjamin Bala is a tall thin man with a balding head. Before his appointment as the Administrator of Meke Hospital, he was the head teacher at Ziwani Secondary School. He became quite wealthy from that position because he perfected the art of pilfering funds from the school accounts. It is probably this quality that endeared him to Archbishop Dina.
Since the hospital is owned by the church, the Hospital Council is made up of church leaders with the Archbishop as the Chairman. The administrator of the hospital is usually appointed by the Council. Usually, the administrator is an elder or senior deacon of the Holy Fire Church. He is expected to have administrative experience but not necessarily from the medical field. Traditionally, administrators do not meddle with the medical aspects of the hospital even though they are the overall bosses. They leave that to the Chief Doctor. Chief Doctors function as Deputy CEOs.
Chief Doctors often have a good working relationship with the Administrators, usually because the Administrators appoint them. Since inception, the hospital has been led by effective administrators, and this ensured the prosperity of the hospital, making it a regional giant. The last on this line of effective administrators was Professor Sebastian Karagita, a retired Vice Chancellor of the University of Shava. Prof. Karagita, a firm but charming executive, appointed Dr. Morris Otuoma, a fine surgeon and competent administrator in his own right, to be his Chief Doctor.
All was well until the newly installed Archbishop decided that he did not want an Adventist as the Chief Doctor. This shocked everyone. Religion had never been a factor in the appointment of the Chief Doctor, or anyone for that matter, with the sole exception of the Administrator.
When Prof. Karagita and Dr. Otuoma were fired, everyone knew that religion was only a cover. It was a badly kept secret that the Archbishop was uncomfortable with the fact that the Chief Doctor was Luo. Although the Holy Fire Church has branches across the country, it was founded in and has its headquarters in Shava County. The founder and first Archbishop of the church, the man who led the church for over forty years, was Archbishop Dina’s father. The late Archbishop Hosea was from the Andreda tribe, the dominant tribe in Shava County.
Archbishop Hosea, Dina’s father, wanted to build an inclusive church. That is why top leadership positions in the church were held by members of different tribes. He was also a firm believer of competence and integrity, which is how he had been able to establish stellar institutions such as Meke Hospital and Meke Academy, a prestigious, private secondary school. Until his death, Archbishop Hosea lived a very modest life.
The archbishop did not want his son to inherit the church as of right, so he appointed a seven member Council of Bishops who would elect the next Archbishop after his death. But Dina took over the church after bribing four Bishops in the six-member Council of Bishops that met to elect the Archbishop. Bishop Alexander, the seventh member of the Council, could not sit on it because he was a contender for the position. Dina was not a Bishop when his father died, but was a lowly priest. He was not even the head of a congregation, but was a youth pastor at the headquarters congregation.
After taking over the church, Dina edged out Alexander and the two Bishops who refused his bribe and thus began his tribal and corrupt reign at the helm of the church, with a bunch of puppets in the Council of Bishops.
The handover ceremony will take place at two in the afternoon at the hospital’s main conference room. The Archbishop will preside the meeting where his outgoing council will hand over the administration of the hospital to James and his new board.
James’ board is largely an executive board, with only one non-executive Director. James himself is the CEO and the chairman of the Board. His sister Liz is the Company Secretary and the Legal Affairs Director. Jemimah will double up as the Deputy CEO and the Chief Operations Officer. Dr. Otuoma, the Chief Doctor who was fired by Bala, will be the Chief Medical Officer. And finally, the former hospital Administrator, Professor Karagita, will sit in as the non-executive director. His role will largely be advisory.
The board as constituted is very displeasing to the Archbishop, who has come in early and is currently in Bala’s office. The return of Karagita and Otuoma is annoying him. But it is Jemimah’s elevated position that is irking him most.
“Why isn’t that woman Jemimah dead?” he asks Bala, who is packing his books and memorabilia into cartons.
“I don’t know either. The man I hired for the job disappeared on me.”
“So he took our money and ran?”
“No, he didn’t take the money. Don’t worry Archbishop. Jemimah will not be present in today’s meeting because she will be in the morgue.”
Jemimah mentioned the threat to Judy in the morning, but they did not get to talk in detail. So they agreed to go out for lunch together. Fearing that someone would be eavesdropping, they agreed not to eat at the hospital cafeteria but to go to a café in Meke town.
As they are walking to the café, they do not notice a woman following them, even though they are constantly checking over their shoulders. They subconsciously expect the killer to be a man, so they think nothing of the woman behind them.
When they stop at the highway to allow vehicles to pass before crossing, the woman removes a pistol that is concealed in her jacket, aims at their heads and fires twice.
[End of the free part of the story. To read the whole story and find out what becomes of Jemimah and Judy, follow the instructions below to purchase your copy of the novella at only Kshs. 100]
Image by Zahid H. Javali from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/operation-theatre-hospital-555088/
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The next story starts on Tuesday. See you all then –Edward.