(Continued from Troubled Castle)
The news of the Governor’s impending divorce spread like bushfire. All it took was an excited clerk at the court registry to whisper a word about it when it was filed last week. Now the town is alive with gossip. That is the favorite topic in bars, salons, market place, barbershops, and even the matatu stage.
Blogs are now carrying the gossip alongside all the juicy half-truths that come with it. In a bid to compete for popularity, the mainstream media started by spreading the gossip on their social media pages. They have now started running the stories on television and in the daily papers.
They have already interviewed Phanis, the Governor’s mistress who has moved in with him in the governor’s mansion. She is not difficult to find, as she is always strutting through the streets of Chuka with an air of self-importance. The Governor has not appeared in public for a week. They cornered Janis at church on Sunday afternoon but while she charmed them in her usual way, she refused to say anything substantial. She refused to throw a shade at her husband and mistress, or talk about the divorce. She skillfully steered the conversation to her favorite topics, women, and youth empowerment programs that she has been championing in her stint as the First Lady of the county.
That interview, if you could call it that, saw her popularity soar across the country. She was already popular in Tharaka Nithi, but now she is a darling of the republic. Everyone loves her husband. He is a charming young governor who easily disarms anyone he is talking to. He has been a favorite for Presidency ever since he was introduced to the Republic by winning the chairmanship on the Council of Governors.
Phanis is enjoying the attention. Her friends are now calling her First Lady. She is, after all, living in the Governor’s mansion with the Governor. This is, of course, much bigger than a dream come true. Having dropped out of form two because of a teenage pregnancy, which she later aborted, her biggest dream was getting married to a secondary school teacher. Or even a primary school teacher. Provided he has a TSC salary and hopefully an inherited piece of land, they would carve out a comfortable life.
She is a hairdresser, and worked at a tiny salon in Chogoria plaiting braids and fixing weaves until her boss decided to open a barbershop. One day a male friend jokingly asked her to shave him when he found the male barbers on lunch break. She took the challenge, and suddenly she became a hit. She became the most popular barber in Chogoria.
When businessman Kamundi decided to open an executive barbershop in Chuka, she was the obvious choice of employee. The pay was better and the shop was prestigious, so she did not hesitate to take up the job. It is at this barbershop that she met Cyrus, who became a regular client.
And now she is the Governor’s wife! Okay, Cyrus says not yet because that divorce has to be finalized. But as far as she is concerned, she is his wife. They are living in the same house, the official government residence no less, and publicly. She is no longer sneaking around because Cyrus needs to placate that foolish wife of his.
Who divorces a governor? A governor that is almost becoming President? That woman is really foolish. To lose all the trappings of power just because of pride? She, Phanis, will do nothing of the sort. If Cyrus wants to keep mistresses, let him. But if any of those silly girls get too close, she, Phanis, will personally pluck their hairs one by one.
She is aware that she is not popular. People say she is arrogant. But she doesn’t care. She is the governor’s wife now, and she might be the Republic’s First Lady soon. She has shut down her Facebook and Instagram accounts because of the insults she is getting ever since the TV people interviewed her. It seems everyone hates her.
But they can all go hang.
Cyrus fills his glass again. He is tipsy but he doesn’t care. Things seem to be spiraling out of control. His father-in-law has been evasive. Cyrus knows why. His daughter has become very popular, and the old man is not stupid. In fact, he is more cunning than the Biblical serpent. He knows Janis might win office and in the process destroy Cyrus career.
The next best thing to being the President’s father-in-law is being the Deputy President’s father, and possibly the future President’s father. What the old man is doing now is watching, waiting for the dust to settle, to see who between his daughter and his son-in-law has the best chance of clinching the top post first.
Cyrus knows he is bleeding politically. Phanis’ interview was disastrous. He had tried to dissuade her from going but she pouted and he reluctantly allowed her to go. He got his media consultants to prep her but she still managed to score awfully.
She came out as a self-seeking and arrogant empty head, and while at it succeeded in making it appear like Cyrus is a sexual addict. Now the country is firmly behind Janis. It is rumored that Senator (General Rtd) Adan Mahmoud wants to have her as his running mate. Adan is regarded as the closest challenger to Cyrus for the Presidency.
He is respected for being tough, but Cyrus stays ahead in polls because he is charming. He connects with voters. But with the rise in terrorism, many increasingly believe that Adan is the right man for the job. But Cyrus’s smiles have been warming hearts for years and keeping Mahmoud’s popularity at bay.
Now Mahmoud is rumored to be contemplating making his now hugely popular wife his running mate. That will all but decide the outcome of the election. Mahmoud’s experience and Janis’ charm will work like magic, and Cyrus will become a casualty of his love life.
His advisors have given him a solution. But he needs the courage to execute it. The idea is simple. Kill Janis, blame Phanis for the murder and ensure she goes to jail. Issue an apology about the divorce and declare everlasting love to your dead wife. Be photographed with your children. Condemn Phanis in the strongest terms possible while appearing to be a mourning husband. If he does this right, the public will adore him once again.
Killing Janis is easy. He had planned to get rid of her anyway. It is the idea of throwing Phanis to jail for a crime she will know nothing about that is making him want to throw up. But it seems to be the only way to save his career.
Surely he will find another woman to love. He picks his phone and dials his chief thug.
“Hello, Rudolf. Get it done. And find a way to implicate Phanis. And no mistakes”
It is 7 pm and Janis is driving home after spending time with a women’s Chama that has started rearing dairy cattle. She had organized a meeting where dairy farming experts and vets talked to them. Now she is driving home, feeling fulfilled.
She opens her gate and drives in. Security was withdrawn the day after Cyrus left the house to go and live in the Governor’s Mansion. She will hire a gateman, but there is no hurry. Chuka is currently the safest town to live in.
She parks the car in the garage, picks her bag from the backseat then walks to the front door. She fumbles with the keys and opens the door. Looking at the darkness, Janis suddenly has a feeling that she is not alone. She moves slowly and switches on the light.
She almost faints.
Seated on her couch are three humano-gorillas. One of them is holding a gun, which is pointed at her. How did they even get in?
“Get in and shut the door, Janis. And do not even think about screaming,” the gunman says menacingly.
(To be continued)