(Continued from The Rider IV)
“I am not comfortable with this, Kate. I know you are doing it for me, and I am grateful. But that price is too steep. I will not let you do it,” Horace says suddenly, grabbing both of Kate’s hands.
Tears well in Kate’s eyes.
“Sometimes we just have to accept that we have been beaten. Maingi has us where he wants us. We have no choice,”
“You are a lawyer, so you must have watched a series called Suits,”
“Yes I have. What does it have to do with anything?”
“There is something Harvey Specter always told Mike Ross: you always have a choice.”
Kate laughs sarcastically.
“Wake up Horace, this is not a movie. This is life. You think you can bluff your way to Maingi and pull a Mike Ross on him? Those things are not real, Horace. They are acted. We are talking about your real father, being held by a real criminal who I have no doubt means what he says. If I transfer the properties and sleep with him, maybe he will be satisfied. I don’t think he has a quarrel with your people. All he wants is the satisfaction of subduing me.”
“What if I tell you I can find another way out of this?”
“It is not ideal because you may still have to sleep with Maingi. But you will get to keep your property, and hopefully he won’t blackmail you into sleeping with him again,”
“What are you talking about?”
“I know a guy who can forge your title deeds, and he is pretty good at it. He is called Charlie. He is likely to charge an arm and a leg, especially because it is short notice. He is not a guy I ordinarily associate with, so we will not get a friendly discount. But he will deliver. When you meet Maingi, give him the fakes. Make him believe that you have given in. That is why you may have to sleep with him. In the meantime, get your lawyers to place a caution on the properties. When he tries to transfer the properties to himself, you sue him and report to the police. Make noise even in the media so that his police friends do not cover him. They will be forced to grab him for fraud and forgery.”
Kate looks at him in disbelief.
“I can’t believe I heard that from you. You want us to forge documents? And I thought you are a Godly man,”
“I am just trying to help. Besides, we are not using forgery to swindle anyone. I have told you that I don’t want you to give your body and property to this fool. But if you insist on going, why don’t we try to save your property at least?”
“How exactly do you know this guy?”
“He was my classmate at Maragi Secondary. I know he helped some of my classmates join University. People got Cs and C minuses but they now have university degrees, thanks to Charlie,”
“Did he forge yours?”
“I wouldn’t be a boda boda rider if I had a certificate saying I got a straight A,” Horace snaps angrily. “I am sorry for dragging you into sin. I will figure out how to rescue my father and brothers on my own. Thanks for the tea.”
He rises and walks out of the house. At first Kate does not think that he is serious. They both know that if he confronts Maingi, he is a dead man. When she realizes that he is serious, she rushes after him, intercepts and kisses him deeply on the lips. His anger instantly dissipates.
“I am sorry Horace,” she says when she pulls back from him. “I shouldn’t have said those things. It is just that this whole things is getting to me.”
“I know. The pressure is getting to me too.”
“About your plan. I will have signed the transfer documents, so how will it work?”
“Use a slightly different signature from the one you ordinarily use. Later you will claim that he tried to forge your signature. He doesn’t know your signature, does he?”
“No. But he probably has people at the hotel who can testify that I was there with him.”
“Being in a hotel room with him doesn’t mean you signed anything. I wish there was a way to do this without your having to sleep with him,” Horace says.
“I wish so too. But thank you for your help, Horace,” she replies. Then she moves closer to him and hugs him. “This will be over soon.”
“It will. But now we need to find Charlie. Go get your title deeds while I call him.”
Charles Githua, popularly known as Charlie, operates on the fringes of the law. His office, which is also his workshop, is on the second floor of a suspicious old building in downtown Murang’a. The upper floors of the buildings host a seedy guest house whose primary clients are prostitutes who pay Charlie fifty shillings per hour to use the rooms to entertain their clients. Most of those clients are drunkards from the dingy bar on the first floor of the same building. But sometimes a mechanic from the roadside garage below gets an itch and “goes up” with one of the girls, parting with 200 bob in the process. During the day, when the bar is not operational, the girls are usually loitering outside the building chatting with the mechanics and winking at strangers.
Charlie owns the building and he also owns the bar and the guest house. His forgery business is quite lucrative, and it is from it that he was able to acquire the building. The second floor, where he has his office, hosts a bunch of other suspicious businesses. There is a clinic whose owner is a disgraced doctor who lost his license after raping a patient and spent eight years in jail for it. He specializes in sexually transmitted diseases and abortions. It goes without saying that the prostitutes of the building are his most regular clients, although university girls with wealthy sponsors also do frequent the place.
Opposite the clinic there is a lawyer who specializes in succession law, which to him loosely translates to sleeping with widows and swindling them of their property. There is also a suspicious-looking insurance broker and a real estate agent who looks legit but who cannot be legit because no one rents space on the second floor of Charlie’s building if they are running a legitimate business. Quacks and con artists like the building because Charlie has “protection” meaning that cops do not enter the building. Charlie regularly forges certificates and title deeds for the who is who in Murang’a at a discount, and in return they ensure that he is able to conduct his business without being harassed by the police.
The only legitimate businesses in that building are on the ground floor. There is an agrovet, two auto spare shops, a hardware and an animal feeds shop. The entrance to the building is a dirty and dark corridor that leads to an equally filthy staircase. There is no lift.
Horace is aware of the sudden interest he is drawing from the ladies of the night as he approaches the building. He has agreed with Kate that she will remain at home and wait for the mechanic who is coming to deal with the tires of her car. Considering what they intend to do, it would have been unwise for her to be seen entering the building of a reputed forger. Horace is wearing an oversize coat that once belonged to Chris and a wide hat that is concealing his face. If Maingi has his people watching, they cannot recognize him unless they are very close. To make his entrance look even more ordinary, he winks at one of the call girls. She comes running. To anyone who is watching, he is just another man with an itch in his manhood and two hundred shillings to spare.
On the first floor, he asks the girl for directions to the clinic of the doctor who treats STDs. She informs him that he is on the second floor. He winks and tells her to wait for him to get some pills for a rash he has on his manhood, before he comes to give her pleasure and money. Then he walks up the stairs slowly like a man in pain. She flees even before he reaches the second floor. She will tell her colleagues and the mechanics downstairs about him, which is a good thing because he doesn’t want anyone to know that he has visited the forger. Just in case anyone has recognized him.
He finds the forger’s office after some difficulty. The owner of the building uses a small office in a corner. The door is not marked. Charlie is a small man. Short, thin and with a bald head. He has shifty, suspicious eyes. He is genuinely surprised to see Horace.
“I never imagined that you would ever need my services, Pastor,” he says chuckling. “What do you need, a degree in theology?”
Charlie is jesting, of course, but Horace is humiliated. He is the guy who used to preach to “lost souls” like Charlie. Yet here he is. He swallows hard before responding.
“No Charlie, I do not need a degree in theology.”
When Horace explains that he wants to forge title deeds, Charlie’s jaw nearly drops to the ground.
“No offence Pastor, but I don’t think I want to help you,”
“Why? I can pay,”
“It is not about money, Pastor,” Charlie says and pauses. “You may not believe it, but you are one of the people I used to admire back in High School. I admired your faith and zeal for God. It breaks my heart to see you come down this path that some of us chose.”
They remain silent for a minute.
“I do not have a choice, Charlie,”
“I do not know the owner of the land, Pastor. But don’t do it. God will bless you with your own property.”
“I am not stealing anything, Charlie. What I have here are not photocopies, but originals,”
“If you have originals, then why do you need fakes?”
Horace hesitates. He is not sure whether Charlie can be trusted with the truth. But then again, what options does he have?
“It is a long story, Charlie. But the thing is, someone wants these properties. That person has kidnapped my father and brothers and is using them to force my girlfriend, who is the owner of these properties, to surrender them to him. She wanted to hand them over but I told her that she doesn’t have to give the originals. That you can produce fakes that look like the real thing to fool the guy into releasing my father and brothers. So please help me.”
“I will do it for you free of charge Pastor. And I hope you will manage to get your father and brothers safely.”
Two hours later, Kate and Horace drive down the deserted road to Sagana. They travel in silence. There isn’t much to be said. They are both very nervous. If Maingi discovers that the documents Kate will present to him are fake, then there will be trouble. But even if he doesn’t, neither of them likes the fact that Kate is going to give her body over to him. And there is no guarantee that he will release Horace’s father and brothers.
Kate parks outside Honesty Microfinance Bank in Sagana. She leaves Horace in the car and walks the short distance to Excellent Hotel. As she walks towards the hotel’s lobby from the gate, her phone vibrates. It is a message from Maingi instructing her to go up to room 312 on the second floor. The timing of the message indicates that he is watching her from his room. She is suddenly grateful that they decided to park outside the hotel. The windows of her car are tinted, so Maingi could not have seen Horace. But she has left him inside the car and therefore she has not locked it. That would have aroused suspicion in Maingi.
One thing that is certain is that when she leaves this hotel after her encounter with Maingi, her dignity will be shattered. But if Maingi discovers that she is lying to him, she might not even walk out of the hotel at all. She told Horace that he cannot kill her in Sagana to reassure him. But she knows that an influential monster like Maingi can easily kill in cold blood and get away with it.
[End of the free part of the story. To read the whole story and find out what became of Kate and Horace, follow the instructions below to purchase your copy of the novella.]
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