Rachel is seated at the back of the church, watching the drama that is unfolding below. Muted drama, so to speak. A woman is rolling on the ground, sobbing loudly. And another one is praying in tongues while shaking her body violently. When Pastor Pascal made the altar call, only a few people presented themselves. That is unusual because Pascal’s church is sustained by drama. But in the last couple of weeks, fewer and fewer people have been showing up. Rachel has been watching the trend, and she believes that this is the right time for her to move. The Pastor will definitely bounce back because he is an experienced con, and she needs to make her move before he does. He is most vulnerable now.
Rachel has been attending this church for close to two years now. She has remained anonymous, which is not impossible in such a large church. She attends all the services but sits in the crowds in the crowds and leaves as soon as the services are over. She does not volunteer for any church activity and doesn’t do anything that would make her stand out from the crowd. She doesn’t make friends or socialize, and she is only cautiously friendly to the ushers. She knows that familiarity might ruin the plan.
But the time to get herself noticed has come. It is time to execute the plan.
Rachel has a deep-seated hatred for Pascal, and she intends to bring him down. Rachel blames him for the death of her dad, whom she was very close to. She also knows that he swindled their mother off the property that her father left behind, and she wants it back. Her mission is two-fold: she wants to punish him for the death of her father, and she also wants to get back her family’s property. To make herself feel better, and to make her mission a higher calling, she tells herself that by destroying this man, she will be saving numerous women and children from destruction. Which is not untrue.
Rachel was born into a middle-class, Christian home. Her father, Ian, was a civil servant working in Embu town. Her mother, Agnes, was an accountant and also worked in Embu town. Rachel had two siblings, Timothy and Leah. They lived in a beautiful home in Kivwe, where Ian had inherited an acre of ancestral land and built a four-bedroom house. Being Presbyterians, they fellowshipped at the Kivwe PCEA Church. Kivwe is a market center a few kilometers outside Embu Town on the Embu-Meru Highway.
Ian was a hardworking man, and that is a value he inculcated in his children, the same way his father inculcated it in him. Using his salary and his inheritance, he built an enviable property empire focusing primarily on buying land to build rental houses and to farm. By the time of his death, he had agricultural land and rental property around Embu County including places as far as Siakago and Ishiara. Besides the land on which their home stood, Ian had inherited a commercial building in Runyenjes and residential rentals in Kivwe. The rest he acquired with his own efforts. Besides real estate, Ian had also invested in Sacco shares and government bonds, but Rachel came to know about this only last year.
Rachel’s family lived in comfort, if not luxury, and serenity for several years. Rachel and her siblings went to top schools and enjoyed the best of life. Their futures looked bright. Trouble began when Rachel was in class four. Her parents, who had previously enjoyed a warm and affectionate marriage, started quarreling frequently. The home became so hostile that she and her siblings preferred to stay away in boarding school. Timothy, who is the oldest, had just completed Form Four and was doing accounting courses at KCA University while waiting to join the University of Nairobi, where he wanted to pursue law. Leah was in form three. Rachel was the surprise baby that had come years later.
The source of the conflict, it appeared, was Agnes’s decision to leave the PCEA church and join Pastor Elijah’s Divine Chariots International Ministries. Apparently, she had been attending Elijah’s lunch-hour meetings and midweek services and had been impressed enough to want to join full-time. She left PCEA Kivwe Church, where she had been serving as Secretary to the Woman’s Guild, and joined Pastor Elijah’s church.
That decision did not sit well with her husband, who was a staunch Presbyterian, and who saw Pastor Elijah as a fraudster and a heretic. The conflict between husband and wife escalated when Rachel’s mother started giving generous donations to the church. Rachel’s father was not amused. He was not a stingy man. Ever since they got married he had never asked his wife what she did with her salary, but instead gave her a generous provision from his income to run the household. Over the years he had been contributing generously to the PCEA church and in harambees, but he always factored donations into his monthly budget. That is the financial discipline his father had taught him. He was therefore not impressed when his wife started giving away the money he gave her for food and utility bills and started demanding more.
He started demanding that she account for the money, but she became hostile. So he froze the money and started paying the bills and buying foodstuff himself. This infuriated her, and the tension in the home became unbearable.
Just when a divorce looked inevitable, Rachel’s father passed away. Rachel doesn’t know for sure what happened, because she was away in school. But from what she gathered, her father had been okay at work the whole day. He came home, had dinner, and went to sleep. But he woke up a couple of hours later complaining of stomach pains. He was taken to hospital and was declared dead on arrival. Rumors had it that he was poisoned by his wife, but no post-mortem was conducted. Not for lack of trying. Leah, backed by Ian’s siblings, pushed hard for the post-mortem, even though she was just a form four student. But Agnes was strongly opposed, and she was supported by Timothy. They argued that nothing would bring Ian back and that it would do everyone good to accept ‘God’s will.’
It took less than a year for Timothy to regret that decision.
Their father had paid full-year fees, so Rachel and her siblings continued with their studies after his death. Rachel completed class four, Leah completed form four and Timothy completed his accounting course. The following year, however, their mother informed them that she did not have money to pay their fees. She claimed that their father had left behind a boatload of debt that she was struggling to service. When Timothy and Leah demanded for the details of those debts, she told them that she did not owe them any explanation. Her pastor backed her on this.
Her pastor was not Elijah, but his son-in-law Pascal.
Rachel discovered later that what drew her mother to Pastor Elijah’s church was the youth pastor called Pascal, who also happened to be married to the Senior Pastor’s eldest daughter. He became Agnes’ confidant, and when Ian died, he became her chief comforter. Pascal was a frequent visitor to the late Ian’s house, and tongues soon started wagging. Ian’s siblings (Rachel’s uncles) tried to intervene but backed off when Agnes got two of them arrested.
When Rachel and her siblings finally confronted their mother about her relationship with the young pastor, she kicked them out of the house telling them that she would choose ‘God’ over them any day. She claimed that Satan was using them to steer her away from the path of righteousness. Calling them ‘little demons’ she told them that she did not wish to see any of them again.
Desperate, they reached out to their uncles for help, but Ian’s brothers refused to help. It turned out that their earlier interventions had not been motivated by the need to protect their nephew and nieces but by the desire to get a share of their prosperous brother’s wealth for their own benefit.
Rachel and Leah would have dropped out of school, except that Timothy stepped up. He deferred his law studies and found employment in a factory as an accountant. That enabled him to pay the rent for the house he and Leah were living in, and where Rachel would now be living when schools closed. None of them was welcome at their home in Kivwe.
Timothy paid Rachel’s primary school fees, but she had to move to a public school because he could not afford the private school they had all schooled in. Still, she pulled herself up by the straps, scored 402 marks in KCPE four years later, and got herself enrolled at Alliance Girls. Her brother paid for that too. Leah had been disoriented by both their father’s death and their mother’s behavior and since all that happened when she was a candidate, she only managed to score a C Plain.
She wanted to go and find work, but Timothy would hear none of it. He found her a public school and told her to repeat form four. She repeated and scored a B plus on the second attempt. She went to the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree. Timothy paid for everything. She is now a teacher employed by TSC.
Timothy’s career changed permanently. He had always wanted to be a lawyer, but family obligations forced him to work with what he had. He is grateful that his father had insisted that he take the accountancy courses rather than sitting at home waiting to join university. He is also grateful that he found a good job just when family responsibilities fell on his shoulders.
While still working at the factory, and while taking care of his siblings, enrolled for a Bachelor of Commerce degree, and focused on a career in finance. He followed that with a Master’s degree in Finance and is now the CFO of a large corporation.
If there is one thing the three learned from their late father, it is how to make the most of whatever opportunities they get.
Rachel left Alliance Girls with a straight A. She could have gone to any University in Kenya, and Timothy actually wanted to find her a scholarship abroad, but she chose to go to the University of Embu to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Law. That puzzled both Timothy and Leah, first because neither of them wanted anything to do with Embu, and second because the law school in Embu was relatively new compared to the ones in Moi University and the University of Nairobi. But Rachel convinced them that she wanted to be closer to her roots and they believed her. Timothy is still supporting her, even though he is married now and has a family of his own. To ease the financial burden on his shoulders, she has been doing online writing, and that has enabled her to pay for her accommodation, food, and basic necessities. Timothy only pays her tuition fees.
The truth, however, is that Rachel has been carrying a grudge all these years. She believes that her mother killed their father because of her romance with Pascal. And as it happened, Pascal later swindled her out of the entire empire that Ian had built over the years. He even helped her forge court papers so that succession was done without their knowledge, making her the sole beneficiary. That is how she was able to sell the property.
When Pascal set up a church in Ishiara, Agnes remained in Elijah’s church for only three months before she followed Pascal. From then on she would drive from Kivwe to Ishiara to attend church services.
The plot on which the church stood had been bought by Rachel’s father. Agnes ‘leased it’ to the church, but she wasn’t getting any rent that the church was supposedly paying for. And when the church bought the land, the money did not go to her but to Pascal. Pascal got both the land and the money used to purchase it. During the construction of the church, Rachel’s mother sold all the assets Ian had accumulated and donated the money towards the construction of the church. After the assets were gone, she started taking loans to ‘support the ministry’ of the man she was sleeping with. She was like a woman bewitched.
Finally, three years ago, one of the banks where she had borrowed money auctioned the Kivwe home after she defaulted on the payments. When Timothy learned about the auction, he immediately reached out and offered to assist, but it was too late. Their mother hanged herself hours before he called, so his call went unanswered. He later reached an agreement with the bank over partial payments and saved the land from sale. That is where Agnes was buried, but the children unanimously agreed that she did not deserve to be buried next to Ian. They convinced PCEA church elders to bury her because they wanted Pascal and his congregants nowhere near the home.
Rachel blames Pascal for the death of her parents. She has been studying him since she relocated to Embu two years ago, and she is now convinced that it is time to make her move.
As the members of the congregation hurry out of the church, Rachel remains in her seat. She is kneeling and pretends to be in prayer. It is a Wednesday evening, and the midweek service has just ended. Rachel knows that Pascal is usually in no hurry to go home. She has been studying him from a distance, and she knows his habits. Finally, when all is quiet, she rises from her seat and walks towards the office.
Suddenly she starts getting nervous. What if he recognizes her? But that is unlikely because she was a small girl when he entered their lives, and now she has grown into a full woman. She avoided the Kivwe house when she returned to Embu, opting to stay in a bedsitter in Embu town like other students. The Kivwe house is now owned by Timothy. Besides, she knows that he has conned so many other people since then, that he can’t keep count of all his victims.
She walks to the outer office and is pleased to note that the secretary is gone. The door to the pastor’s office is ajar, so she knocks and enters. Pascal is surprised to see her, but after a second she sees the familiar look in his eyes…not recognition, but lust. Rachel has spent the last two years practicing different sex styles with different men just for this one occasion. She knows that her siblings would not approve, and that if they knew they would ask her to forgive and move on.
But Rachel will do neither of them. She has to avenge her father’s death. And she has to get back the property that this crook took from them. Rachel discovered, months after she settled in Embu, that the rental property and the pieces of land that her father owned are now owned by Pascal. Apparently, he would urge their mother to sell, and then he would ‘scout’ for a buyer, but the buyer would be a representative of a company owned by him. He would take money from the church, and using a proxy, buy the property from Rachel’s mother. And then he would convince her to ‘donate’ the money to ‘God’. The church would get its money back, and Pascal would get the property for free. Of course, church money is also Pascal’s money.
The more she thinks about it, the more she hates the man, but she has to act sweet for her plan to work.
“What can I do for you?” he asks. Rachel smiles sweetly. She can see his eyes feeding on her flesh, which is well displayed by her tiny mini skirt and low-cut top.
“The real question is what I can do for you?”
They dance around that question for a minute, and when he stands up and walks around his desk and then stands behind her, she knows that she has him where she wants him.
Rachel has always known that Pascal’s miracles are staged. But she also knew that it was impossible to stage high-tempo miracles all year round. That is why she has been waiting patiently for the slow weeks to come so that she can approach him with a solution. Rachel knows quite several creative people who can fake miracles for a fee. She already has an understanding with several of them. She knows they can do much better than the semi-illiterate thugs Pascal has been hiring. They have nothing to lose. They just put in a show, as they would in a theatre, and get paid. They are her schoolmates on campus and some are even her friends or her friends’ friends.
But first, she has to nail the job.
When Pascal hears that she can get him people to rejuvenate his congregation, he predictably jumps at the idea. But he also, again quite predictably, wants to sleep with her. Rachel demands twenty thousand shillings from him before she can offer her body, and he agrees. They spend the night at a hotel, and Rachel unleashes all her skills on him.
The following morning he hires her as the church’s social media manager, and she agrees to start getting him people to dramatize his miracles.
On Sunday, Rachel is seated at the front of the church, next to Pascal’s wife Salome. Rachel would have pitied her because of the kind of husband she has, but she knows Salome is part of her husband’s con game. Mrs. Pascal is more interested in maintaining her wealthy status than keeping her husband in line. Besides, she started sleeping with him when he was married to his first wife Sharon, she is not exactly a victim. They deserve each other.
Rachel endures the service. She is so anxious that she can hardly concentrate, although she is working hard not to show it. The first person she offers to Pascal is her best friend Cynthia. Cynthia is probably the best actress in Embu, and she also passionately hates pastors. She was raped by a pastor when she was twelve years old, and she has never stepped inside a church since then. But she agreed to do this because Rachel convinced her that doing this would not only earn them some cash, but would also place the pastor in their mercy.
But will Cynthia’s hatred for Pastors hinder her performance and ruin everything?
It doesn’t. Cynthia and her make-up artist put up a stellar performance that leaves everyone, including Rachel herself, amazed. The crowd’s belief in their pastor soars, and Pascal’s belief in Rachel grows a hundredfold.
Rachel knows that with Cynthia’s performance at the altar, and with her own performance in bed earlier, Pascal will do anything she asks, including marrying her. And that is what she wants. The closer she gets to him, the easier it will be to get what she wants.
As the euphoria flows through the church after the ‘healing’ of Cynthia, Rachel catches Pascal absentmindedly gazing at her. She is pleased because it means she has him under her thumb, but she silently reminds him to focus. Because she needs him at his peak. She wants to bring him down when he is at the height of his powers so that the crash can be remembered for generations.
He is a predator, but she is a hunter with a poisoned arrow.
[I will tell you the comprehensive story about Rachel and Pascal in the novella ‘Hunting the Predator’ which will be ready next week Tuesday. See you all then.]
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